What Is BLS Certification for Healthcare Providers and Individuals?


Robust healthcare training begins with the basics. That includes certification.

The American Medical Resource Institute’s Basic Life Support certification (BLS) provides fundamental instruction in first response to life-threatening emergencies. The course empowers people—both within and outside of the healthcare industry—to respond to serious medical situations.

A BLS certification is an asset to all. Read on to learn more about BLS certification for healthcare providers and individuals.

What Is Basic Life Support?

Basic life support (BLS) is a program for the medical care of patients with time-sensitive, life-threatening injuries or illnesses.

Basic life support typically entails recognizing signs of a medical issue or life-threatening condition and responding appropriately. Individuals use basic life support in situations involving (but not limited to):

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Choking and suffocating
  • Drowning
  • Allergic reactions
  • Convulsions


What Is a Basic Life Support Certification?

The BLS Certification is the foundation of any healthcare training.

It typically entails four to five hours of training in various life support and resuscitation techniques. The course culminates with a short assessment.

Many institutions offer training to both healthcare professionals and qualified bystanders. The more people obtain BLS certifications, the fewer preventable fatalities occur.


Although individuals have used basic life support skills throughout history, the formalization of BLS certification began only thirty years ago.

In the 20th century, the medical community began to advocate for the widespread teaching of artificial ventilation and chest compressions to treat cardiac arrest. A 1962 training video entitled “The Pulse of Life” initiated general interest in the technique.

Several medical associations began to teach and refine their methods. In 1992, various organizations formed the International Liason Committee on Resuscitation to teach resuscitation techniques.

In 2000, the committee released the first formal resuscitation guidelines. Since then, the ILCR has led the widespread effort to teach and promote basic life support skills.


BLS certification aims to empower individuals to take action in moments of medical crisis. It is particularly useful for first responders and others who are likely to be encountering medical crises as a matter of course in their work.

Most courses combine lectures, case studies, and practical application with teaching the following skills:

  • Administering CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation)
  • Opening an airway and clearing objects
  • Chest compressions
  • Responding to choking or drowning
  • Using an automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • Ensuring appropriate ventilation with a barrier device


The methodology of essential life support consists of adequate identification and resolution of medical crises.

Many instructors and institutions use the acronym DRSABCD to summarize the steps of basic life support administration.


The first step in BLS administration is to recognize the presence of danger. This requires the recognition of specific symptoms.


Students learn to respond to emergencies with various BLS skills.

S–Send for Help

Students learn to contact emergency medical responders and aptly describe the patient’s situation.


Healthcare providers and trained bystanders then administer the Jaw Thrust maneuver, which enables airway opening.


Responders learn to check for breathing and determine the need for CPR.


Students learn to administer CPR


Trained BLS administrators learn to use AEDs if CPR is unsuccessful.

Basic Curriculum

The curriculum for BLS certification is dense and often packed into a few hours. Students learn many invaluable life-saving skills throughout the certification process.

Visual Survey and Rapid Assessment

In a BLS Certification course, you will first learn to identify medical emergencies.

Performing a visual survey entails recognizing the need for essential life support, assessing the safety of the surrounding environment, checking the patient’s responsiveness, and checking for pulse and breathing. This assessment must be performed before taking any other measures.

Relief of an Airway Obstruction

Airway obstructions may result from choking on a foreign object or swelling due to trauma or an allergic reaction.

In a BLS course, students learn various methods to dislodge obstructions, including the Heimlich maneuver (a combination of timed back blows and chest thrusts) and CPR.

Single-Rescuer CPR

CPR is one of the most valuable skills anyone can learn. CPR consists of delivering precise chest compressions at a precisely timed rate (typically 100 to 120 compressions per minute).

Students learn to deliver CPR when they are the only trained responder available to address the medical emergency.

Team-Based CPR

Team-based CPR is a choreographed CPR method where each responder has a specific role. In a BLS class, students learn to allocate responsibilities, assume leadership, perform all tasks, and employ closed-loop certification.

Ventilation with a Barrier Device

Ventilation is a targetted approach akin to breathing for a victim. Students typically learn to use a barrier device to prevent the transmission of pathogens and deliver breaths at a specific rate.

Using an AED

The AED is a helpful device that has revolutionized emergency care. Responders use an AED when a patient’s heart is no longer beating. The machine delivers electrical shocks to prompt the heart to beat.

Most BLS Certification courses teach students the fundamentals of using an AED.

When Is It Appropriate to Use Basic Life Support?

There are many situations in which BLS training can save a patient’s life.

Cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest is when the heart ceases to pump regularly. A BLS certification will teach you to use chest compressions and an AED to resolve cardiac arrest.


Drowning is a hazardous condition that requires immediate medical attention. Bystanders with BLS certifications learn to meet the needs of drowning patients immediately and efficiently.

Respiratory Arrest

Respiratory arrest is when a patient ceases to breathe. Responders learn to employ the necessary techniques to restart breathing.


Choking is one of the most common situations requiring life support. It describes a situation when a foreign body obstructs the trachea. Responders learn to dislodge foreign objects and administer necessary treatment.

Who Should Obtain a BLS Certification?

The Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone learn CPR and the associated skills for essential life support.

Immediate attention is often the determinant between life and death for a patient in critical care, and the more bystanders know emergency medicine skills, the fewer patients are likely to die. To this end, many BLS courses are accessible to all, regardless of previous medical training.

However, some people may significantly benefit from obtaining a BLS certification.

Healthcare and Rescue Professionals

Most healthcare institutions and rescue departments (police, firefighters, etc.) require professionals to obtain their BLS certifications.

The skills one learns in a BLS course are vital to adequate medical care—and are often necessary for learning and administering more complex procedures.

Parents, Guardians, Teachers, and Child-Care Professionals

Children are susceptible to life-threatening conditions—particularly choking. A basic grasp of emergency medicine can help parents to protect their children from preventable harm.

Nursing Home Employees and Senior Caregivers

As the elderly are more vulnerable to life-threatening events, those who care for them benefit from appropriate training in BLS skills.

Athletic Trainers and Coaches

Exercise can induce strain and introduces the possibility of an injury. Coaches and trainers can learn CPR to help prevent any emergencies.

Everyone Else

Everyone can and should learn basic life support skills. You never know when you’re going to find yourself in a medical emergency and be able to save someone’s life. Obtaining a BLS certification is an asset to yourself and others.

The Many Benefits of a BLS Certification

A BLS certification benefits the student and anyone they will contact. Many of the benefits of learning BLS contribute to the overall welfare of society.

Meet Requirements

Most healthcare industry positions require BLS certifications. Additionally, other professions may require or suggest their employees receive BLS training. Participating in a course can help students to fulfill these essential requirements.

Boost Your Job Candidacy

Individuals with BLS training may appear more desirable to prospective employers. Having an employee with life-saving skills is often an incomparable asset.

Become an Asset to Your Family and Workplace

Individuals with BLS training can support their coworkers and loved ones in emergencies. Their skills are an unmatched asset to all around them.

Build Confidence

It can be gratifying to exercise one’s BLS skills and assist someone in what is typically a traumatic situation. Experiencing the gratitude of a recovered patient is an unmatched experience.

Save Lives

CPR can double or triple a patient’s chances of surviving. But lives are often lost due to a lack of training or application of life-saving techniques. Receiving a BLS certification can mean the difference between life and death.


Do you still have questions about BLS certification? Let’s see what most people want to find out.

How often do healthcare providers and individuals need to get certified?

The BLS certification lasts for two years until it requires renewal. Changes in life support techniques often change over time, and most people forget essential details of BLS.

Where can healthcare providers and individuals get certified?

Many major medical institutions offer BLS certification courses online or in person. The American Medical Resource Institute offers a comprehensive BLS certification at an affordable price.

The AMRS is remote, nationally accredited, and easily accessible anytime. The institute also offers a money-back guarantee to ensure satisfaction.

A Final Note to Healthcare Providers and Individuals

A BLS certification is a mark of bravery and responsible citizenship. The first response often dictates whether a patient will live or die—and as more bystanders obtain emergency training, fewer lives will be lost.

Author Bio:

Kate Macmorn

Communications Director


Kate is the communications director for the American Medical Resource Institute, where they’ve trained over a million healthcare professionals to study for, earn and maintain life support certifications that allow them to better respond to cardiac emergencies. When not in the office, you can find Kate practicing her tennis skills. She also frequents live music venues and is always looking for her next creative hobby.