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BLS or CPR AED? What's the difference?

Updated: Feb 1, 2020

Ring. Ring.

RGV CPR: "Good morning, RGV CPR."

Caller: "Hi. I want to sign up for a CPR class."

RGV CPR: "Sure. Do you need BLS or CPR AED?"

Caller: (long pause)..."Ummm, what's the difference?"

This is one of the most common questions we get here at RGV CPR. And for those in the healthcare field, not knowing the answer may mean the difference between getting the correct certification and continuing to work OR getting the wrong certification and having to re-take and re-pay for the correct class and possibly being suspended from work until the proper certification can be presented.

The American Heart Association (AHA) offers two different types of basic CPR courses. The first is Heartsaver CPR AED (for lay rescuers) and the other is BLS (basic life support) Provider (for medical professionals). The AHA develops curriculums, that include student manuals and videos, specific to each course they offer.

So, what is the differece? The AHA BLS Provider course is specifically designed for persons in the medical field or those going to school to enter a field in the medical profession. This is the certification required by most healthcare facilities in the Rio Grande Valley and in the U.S. Topics covered in this course that are NOT covered in the Heartsaver CPR AED course include:

  • Pulse checks in an unresponsive patient

  • Bag mask ventilation

  • CPR with advanced airway

  • Rescue breathing

  • Difference in compression to ventilation ratio for 2-rescuer pediatric CPR

  • Team dynamics

  • Mandatory pass/fail written exam required for certification

Because of the variances in the two courses, it is vital that employees and employers know the difference. When you register for your training, ensure that the instructor is using the curriculum and video that corresponds to the certification you wish to receive. Many instructors combine students for both courses into one class to fill classes. This is a disservice to course participants. When students are combined, those who are more likely to use the skills during the course of their work, may not receive the full training nor be challenged to think critically during an emergency. On the other hand, lay rescuers who are combined with healthcare professionals, may be overwhelmed with unnecessary information that they will have to mentally sift through in the event that they do find themselves in an emergency situation.

Certification without the appropriate AHA curriculum (see the sample cards above) is not a valid certification. Are you properly certified?

If you have found this information to be helpful, please share it and like our Facebook page to stay up-to-date on the latest CPR compliance issues and on our upcoming schedule of ACLS, BLS, CPR AED, and PALS classes.

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