How to get Certified in Basic Life Support (BLS)

In the USA basic life support (BLS) certification classes can be found through many private organizations, educational facilities, and community centers.  The one unifying feature of these programs is they adhere to the guidelines set forth by the American Heart Association.  The AHA is recognized as the primary certification source for basic life support training (BLS), but should not be considered the only source.

The AHA has designed programs for nearly all types of students including:

  • Basic Life Support for Health Care Providers
  • Basic Life Support for Health Care Providers Online Version (See qualifying notes below.)
  • Heartcode BLS Series
  • Family and Friends CPR
  • HeartSaver Series for Workplace Training

It is important to note each of these styles of training provides different levels of instruction.  The BLS series for health care providers is designed to prepare nurses, aides, and other medical employees how to provide the rapid care required for saving lives.  The basic certification life support classes for health care providers include advanced instruction in the use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator).

Using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is an important component of BLS training

Training for Your Community

The Family and Friends CPR course focuses on many of the same methods, but does not prepare you for certification or provide you with a CPR course completion card.  This program is ideal for churches, parent-teacher meetings, and other community groups who wish to train parents and family members basic life support techniques but do not have a need for certification.

Extended BLS Certification Classes for Non-Medical Industries

The Heartsaver courses are specifically designed for non-medically trained individuals who need to successfully complete either a CPR course or basic life support certification classes.  This program is ideal for retail outlets, industrial workplaces, and offices which must meet OSHA and other regulatory requirements.  The course steps the students through basic first aid, CPR, AED usage, and how to deal with blood borne pathogens.  For retail establishments or other locations where children may be present, it is recommended to take the Heartsaver Pediatric First Aid course, also.

Many of the above courses have online or e-learning options.  It is important note the online courses do not excuse you from having hands-on training.  In order to become certified you must still attend live sessions led be a certified trainer.   Some courses do allow you to test out by doing a skills evaluation with an American Heart Association Instructor or Evaluator.

Is the AHA Your Only Option for Your Basic Life Support Training?

As we mentioned previously, the AHA is not the only organization offering basic life support certification classes.  There are many other companies who offer classes which are based upon the AHA guidelines but are not certified by the AHA.  Their certifications are issued by their individuals companies which may or may not be accepted by your insurance company and local regulators.  Before signing up for classes offered by third-party providers verify they meet your certification needs.

The second most recognized set of programs are offered by the American Red Cross.  They provide courses very similar to the AHA programs which can be used for Emergency Medical Responders, family members, health professionals, and workplace requirements.  Most of their programs will certify your proficiency for a period of one to two years.

You may wish to check with your insurance company to see what programs they are on the approved list.  You can find out which courses are offered in your community by contacting your local AHA office, American Red Cross branch, or by contacting your local emergency response departments.

Remember, it is more important to learn the techniques which save lives than to worry about that will provide your basic life support certification classes.  Both the AHA and Red Cross offer excellent training which will prepare you for an emergency.

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid & CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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