Health & Safety Training

All Things About American Heart Association BLS Certification

Written by Pam Graham
American Heart Association BLS Certification


The Basic Life Support (popularly known as BLS) certification is a prerequisite short training course that is mandatory for public safety personnel and clinical health professionals. The course provides basic training to aspiring professionals for dealing with various health emergencies. It’s particularly useful for many job roles, such as lifeguards, teachers, coaches, and so on.

By pursuing the course, you can learn fundamental life-saving skills, such as resuscitating, reviving, or tending to people having a cardiac arrest or respiratory problems. Therefore, you will always be prepared for such emergencies.

With that said, there are plenty of career options for people seeking BLS training and certification. Although the objectives of these certifications and courses are pretty much the same, the difference is often the validation period and the level of in-depth knowledge they provide.

For this reason, the American Heart Association (AHA) is considered one of the most prestigious institutions when it comes to providing BLS training and certification. Here, we will explore what the AHA BLS course offers and why it is better than other available options.

What Does the AHA BLS Course Offer?

AHA’s BLS course aims at training medical professionals and healthcare personnel to perform CPR and similar basic life support skills in various pre-hospital and in-facility settings.

This is why the course includes training materials that can help you to recognize various life-threatening situations. Following that, the students are required to provide high-quality chest compressions to patients while also delivering ventilation when needed.

The BLS course includes a range of components, including AHA Chain of Survival, critical early applications of AED as well as high-quality CPR for infants, children, and adults. At the same time, the course options include using barrier devices for adequate ventilation and providing relief in the case of foreign body airway obstruction in infants and adults. Lastly, the course participants learn the importance of working in a team in multi-rescuer situations.

If you are interested in signing up for the Basic Life Support Course, you can choose either of the two training models – classroom training and blended learning. Regardless of which course you select, you will get to learn AHA science-based skills.

Who Can Pursue the AHA BLS Course?

Anyone who is a part of a pre-hospital environment can benefit from the BLS course. Moreover, professionals, such as paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, in-facility hospital providers, can also learn crucial skills that can help them perform their duties effectively. After a participant successfully completes the course, he or she will earn a course completion card that is valid for up to two years.

American Heart Association BLS vs. Red Cross BLS

The American Heart Association and the Red Cross are reputable medical organizations. Both of these institutions offer training courses for medical personnel and health professionals. When comparing AHA’s BLS and Red Cross’ CPR, you will see many similarities between them. But there are also some key differences as well.

Higher Standards and Passing Criteria

Many people consider the courses offered by the American Heart Association to be more stringent and in-depth than the ones provided by the Red Cross. At the same time, a significant number of organizations require health professionals to be qualified from the AHA. However, this can vary according to the preferences of your employer.

One of the reasons for this is that the American Heart Association offers a more challenging program. The courses offered by both the Red Cross and the American Heart Association are more or less similar in content, difficulty level, and time duration. However, the standards for passing candidates is not the same for both courses.

The Red Cross certification requires a threshold of approximately 80% points in the exam to earn a certification. The American Heart Association, on the other hand, ensures that only participants that attain marks between 84% or higher qualify for the certification. Although both institutions are widely recognized throughout the country, and many hospitals prefer one or the other, no hospital requires you to complete both courses.

Even though the AHA has a higher standard for passing candidates, you can still earn the certification due to the quality of training provided by the AHA instructors. AHA instructors are required to work closely with the close participants and pass all necessary information to all prospective candidates.

As a student, you can learn how to perform competent compression, resuscitation, and demonstrate AED skills on patients. This is why the majority of students that participate in AHA CPR training are able to earn the certification without much trouble.

AHA Leading in Research and Statistics

To start, the American Heart Association (AHA) is not merely a CPR training provider, but also a research organization. Therefore, its role goes beyond providing training to health professionals and medical support staff.

The institute also serves as a beacon for establishing CPR training guidelines around the US. Many traditional and online providers of CPR training follow these guidelines. They also promote CPR education with the help of its research.

In contrast, the American Red Cross does not organize research facilities for CPR treatment. This is why the AHR needs to follow the guidelines provided by AHA, like the majority of other CPR training programs when designing their training materials.

With that said, both these organizations offer training to participants at different levels. This means that CPR training is different for community members, ordinary citizens, CPR training in corporate environments, and healthcare providers.

Although the American Red Cross promotes recent research, it is not at the same par as the American Health Association. Since the AHA are statisticians, researchers, and providers of newly observed data and statistics regarding resuscitation, cardiac arrest, and heart health, other training programs rely on the information provided by the AHA to develop their guidelines.

In short, if the AHA didn’t continue to conduct and report their findings through research, the techniques and guidelines for CPR would have remained stagnant over long periods.

The American Heart Association follows a policy where it continually updates its guidelines according to the evidence uncovered during its research. Since the institute controls a significant portion of the training market, the findings and updates in the guidelines trickle down to the ground level as other CPRs follow suit.

This happens to such an extent that it is not uncommon to see CPR training services, such as the Red Cross, to use phrases such as “…training consistent with the 2015 AHA Guidelines”.

In-Depth Courses and Training

Due to its continuous promotion of research, the BLS program is more likely to adapt to new findings and study quickly. Therefore, as the organization adopts evidence-based guidelines, the participants can avail more in-depth training compared to their Red Cross counterparts.

With that said, the fundamental breath-to-compression ratios and instructions in both these courses remain more or less the same. This happens because the ratios, recommendations, and techniques taught are based on the latest AHA research findings. The courses also use the same data gathered from the survival rates of healthcare providers and bystander CPR.

The Level of Acceptance

Since the AHA leads the majority of CPR training programs due to its heart-centric medical research, a higher number of employers suggest AHA courses to healthcare providers. Therefore, healthcare professionals, such as nurses, need to verify whether their employers prefer the AHA-issued certification card or the Red Cross CPR certification. By doing this, you can safely decide which CPR training program would be the best for you.

Furthermore, employers can offer corporate CPR courses as part of their internal training or orientation. Since this is a financially efficient way of providing your staff with the latest training, many professionals prefer it. So, if healthcare professionals can research these scenarios beforehand, they can make an informed decision on which course to choose.

The Validation Period for the CPR Training and Certification

Another critical difference between Red Cross CPR and AHA BLS is that the validation period for both these certifications is not the same. Aside from the healthcare provider course by the American Red Cross, its certifications are only valid for a single year. On the other hand, the American Heart Association offers AHA CPR and healthcare-oriented certifications for as much as two years. In both these courses, you would need to renew the certification as soon as the respective validation period ends.

The AHA BLS training course helps you learn critical skills that can potentially save dozens of lives. To learn more about the AHA BLS course, visit the American Health Association’s website.

If you’re interested in getting BLS certified in Vacaville, California, ABC Health and Safety Training provides in-classroom training for AHA BLS certification conveniently scheduled on various days throughout the month. For those who prefer online learning, AHA offers a 2-step program with an online component and ABC Health and Safety Training Hands-On Session as the final exam. The in-person Hands-On Session usually takes less than an hour to complete.

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