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Basic Life Support


Basic life support (BLS) is the level of medical care which is used for patients with non-life threatening and life threatening illnesses or injuries until the patient can be given full medical care at a hospital or advanced life support (ALS) personnel arrive. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT's) are trained in Basic Life Support. BLS is generally used in the pre-hospital setting, and can be provided without medical equipment.

Basic life support (BLS) is used for the management of a number of conditions, such as Cardiac arrest, choking and drowning as well as treating for falls and accidents. BLS does not include the use of drugs or invasive skills, and can be contrasted with the provision of Advanced Life Support (ALS).

CPR provided in the field increases the time available for higher medical responders to arrive and provide ALS care. An important advance in providing BLS is the availability of the automated external defibrillator or AED. This improves survival outcomes in cardiac arrest cases.

Basic life support consists of a number of life-saving techniques focused on the medicine "ABC"s of pre-hospital emergency care:

  • Airway: the protection and maintenance of a clear passageway for gases (principally oxygen and carbon dioxide) to pass between the lungs and the atmosphere.
  • Breathing: inflation and deflation of the lungs (respiration) via the airway
  • Circulation: providing an adequate blood supply to tissue, especially critical organs, so as to deliver oxygen to all cells and remove metabolic waste, via the perfusion of blood throughout the body.

Basic Life Support units are very useful for non-emergency transports where the patient requires trained medical personnel to be present should they need medical intervention enroute to a doctors office, hospital or other care facility.