Health & Safety Training

What’s the difference between Basic Life Support and CPR?

Written by Pam Graham
Differences BLS and Basic CPR


Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Basic Life Support (BLS) are the two most basic skills in cardiology treatment. Both are concerned with reviving the respiration process for those facing a cardiac arrest. Because of the similarities between the two, the terms are often used interchangeably by people.

While the two treatments have similar aims, there is a slight difference between them. For a layman, it may not be an issue, but if you’re looking to pursue a medical career, you should be able to distinguish BLS from Basic CPR and be trained in each of them.

What is BLS?

Certified by the American Health Association (AHA), BLS is a training course designed for health professionals that provides them with the skills they must possess as healthcare providers. It covers multiple aspects such as applying rescue breathing techniques, performing CPR on adults, children, and infants, efficiently using an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) and big-mask for ventilation, and relieving airway obstructions or addressing choking-related issues.

Hence, BLS training is a professional certification that trains medical professionals not only on how to apply CPR in different scenarios to people of different ages but also on using specific medical tools to facilitate the process. It is meant for those who work in healthcare settings.

Typical BLS training consists of hands-on training and a comprehensive exam in the end. The certification is valid for two years. You’ll generally require a BLS certification if you plan to enter professions such as EMT, CNA, surgeon, pharmacist, lifeguard, board-certified doctor, and medical assistant.

What is Basic CPR?

CPR, on the other hand, can be summarized in three simple words: ‘Call’, ‘pump’ and ‘blow’. Although it sounds easy, you can only become a CPR expert by taking a proper CPR training course. Unlike BLS, that is mostly meant for individuals in the medical field, this course is primarily intended for non-medical individuals looking to acquire basic life-saving skills that can be immediately performed to address unexpected circumstances before medical help can be sought.

While everyone is recommended to obtain CPR training, teachers, day-care providers, and employees in a workplace should definitely know how to perform CPR on kids and adults. Typical CPR training can include first-aid basics, how to perform compressions, and the necessary use of an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED).

A CPR certification class includes classroom lectures as well as hands-on practice using dummies. At the end of the course, you’ll be required to appear for an MCQ-based exam. If you pass the exam, you’ll receive your CPR certification, which is valid for 2 years.

The Difference

The difference between basic life support and CPR is primarily a matter of advancement. Simply put, CPR is a part of BLS, which, in turn, is an advanced form of CPR training. While CPR can be performed anywhere without any medical tools or instruments, BLS is used to provide more comprehensive life support under a prescribed therapeutic environment, making use of sophisticated medical devices and techniques. 

While everyone should be trained in CPR, anyone who plans to pursue a career in medicine will most certainly acquire BLS training.

In other words, a BLS certified person will automatically be certified in CPR, but a CPR certified person is not necessarily a BLS certified professional. Also, once CPR has been successful in reviving the respiration of an individual, BLS is then applied to sustain them.

About ABC Health & Safety Training

ABC Health & Safety Training is the premier BLS, CRP and First Aid certification and re-certification provider in Northern California, stationed in Vacaville.  All courses are based on 2015 American Heart Association guidelines and also follow recommended guidelines from the select organizations: U.S. Dept of Health Services. U.S. Dept of Education and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) standards. 

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