BLS vs CPR… What’s the Difference?

Have you ever applied for a job that required BLS certification?

“I’m CPR certified,” you say. “But does that count? Am I qualified?”

Sound familiar?…

I get a lot of questions about the difference between BLS and CPR. So, I thought I would take a second to delve into this on a deeper level.

I spoke with our Training and Compliance Manager, Jody Marvin, concerning the topic and this is what he had to say:

“There is no difference between BLS and CPR,” he said.  “BLS is an abbreviation for Basic Life Support. It is simply another term for CPR and leans towards meaning healthcare provider level.”

“But what about when people are doing research online and find comments that seem to suggest it is a different certification?” I asked.

“Most often, when a person is searching online or asking about a BLS certification, they mean Healthcare Provider level CPR,” Jody explained.  “However, BLS is a generic term for any form of CPR. This is especially the case in other countries, like the UK. Basic life support refers to maintaining an open airway and supporting breathing and circulation without the use of equipment other than a protective device.”

“So, then if it’s the same, why is there still so much confusion about the terms?” I asked him.

“Where confusion comes from is that the term BLS has traditionally been associated with Healthcare Provider level CPR,” he answered. “The American Heart Association certification for healthcare providers is titled, “BLS for Healthcare Providers”. Our equivalent certification is “ProCPR.” The American Red Cross equivalent certification is called “CPR for the Professional Rescuer and Healthcare Providers. Years ago, the American Heart Association term was BCLS (Basic Cardiac Life Support), or BLS level C.”

“Okay, so it’s just because of the difference in terminology which makes it seem more complicated then it really is?” I ventured.

“Not quite,” Jody responded. “The real issue is not about the term BLS. Rather, it is about getting to the root of what course content the person needs in order to determine which level of CPR a person needs. For example, healthcare providers need ProCPR (Healthcare provider Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED level), teachers and daycare providers need ProFirstAid (Lay rescuer Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED level), general workplace people need ProFirstAid Basic or ProCPR Basic (Lay rescuer Adult CPR/AED level).”

“Ah, okay. Got it. Thanks so much, Jody!”

For more information on all the courses we offer, please visit procpr.org.

Katrina Scheer

"You are crazy." my co-worker, Ryan, said today, "but don't worry, only the best people are." "HAHA! Thanks Ryan." I laughed. I typically have a very different perspective than most people I know, and my voice and perspective naturally come out in everything I do, say and write. Sometimes, I get called "crazy" for it. But it's okay, because "crazy people" are the only ones who end up changing the world anyway...and thankfully, I get to work at a company with some of the most amazing, crazy people I know. :)

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