Basic life support training is vital for public safety professionals, first responders, and healthcare providers in a medical emergency. This is especially important when a sudden cardiac arrest occurs.

In this situation, prompt emergency response can save a patient’s life, including CPR, rescue breathing, and even defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator (AED-use).

Let’s look at the principles of Basic Life Support and go over the BLS skills required to care for a patient.

We’ll also discuss how to stabilise the patient until first responders arrive!

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What Is Basic Life Support (BLS)?

Basic Life Support (BLS) is a type of medical care typically administered by doctors and nurses in the hospital and by emergency medical services (EMS) or qualified bystanders out of hospital.

Basic Life Support is characterised by its quick emergency cardiovascular care, rescue breathing, chest compressions, and even early defibrillation to restore normal breathing in adults and children (with the head tilt-chin lift maneuver).

It primarily cares for cardiac arrest victims, an obstructed airway, or abnormal breathing. This lifesaving system requires knowledge of Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), AEDs, and clearing airway obstructions.

Anyone can do this first aid procedure with the proper BLS skills and BLS certification. When done correctly, CPR can jumpstart a heart and bring people back to life!

A first aid practitioner is taught how to assess breathing, check circulation and check rhythm before they learn anything else in a first aid certification course.

They are taught how to perform high-quality chest compressions and conduct a full BLS survey (from airway assessment to recovery position) until an ambulance arrives.

What Is the Basic Life Support (BLS) Algorithm?

BLS Basic Life Support Demonstration

The BLS Algorithm is a list of steps to take when responding to a situation that may require basic life support (BLS).

It allows first aid practitioners to assess their ability to help in a crisis.

This is because a situation that requires basic life support (BLS) skills often involve multiple casualties. It is impossible to conduct first aid if you are also in danger of getting injured.

It is counter-intuitive to conduct cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the patient cannot breathe. Basic life support thus also includes advanced airway treatment.

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What Is the Importance of DRSABCD?

This acronym is a reminder of steps to take when conducting first aid relating to basic life support (BLS).

Before you spring into action as a first-aid practitioner, let’s take a look at what to consider.


It is vital to assess the danger of the situation before activating your first aid status (if you are not an emergency responder). Before inserting yourself into the scene, you must ensure that the external situation has stabilised.


Once you activate yourself, it is important to determine your patient’s condition. This entails forcefully tapping them on the shoulders while asking them if they’re alright.

If they are unconscious or unresponsive, it is time to proceed with the BLS survey.

Send for Healthcare Providers

If you know you are out of your depth, it is best to send someone to call for professional medical help. An NHS ambulance can get to the scene in a matter of minutes.

Your role will be to perform CPR to increase the chances of survival.


You would need to check your patient for signs of cervical spine injury and debris if an incident caused their cardiac arrest. Patients will not be receptive to rescue breathing if their airway is blocked.

It will also be impossible to determine circulation if you cannot gain access to the carotid artery.


The number 1 sign to begin CPR is when you find your patient unable to breathe.

Once your subject stops breathing, showing no signs of chest rise, you will need to check their patent airway.

Airway blockages (in the throat, mouth, and nose) greatly decrease the chances of survival because they lead to abnormal breathing or even a lack of breath.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

It is time to conduct CPR if you have conducted your pulse checks and cannot feel the carotid pulse. You must move quickly if your subject has stopped breathing even after clearing their mouth and airway.

You will need to conduct high-quality chest compressions above the sternum. It would be best to have a consistent chest compression rate with full chest recoil.

You will then fill their lungs with rescue breath until you feel a pulse or see them breathing.


If you have exhausted your options and have properly conducted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, then it is time to conduct medical care typically administered in emergency rooms.

BLS then transitions from mouth to heart, as emergency services will rely on an AED (which includes CPR) to return the patient’s pulse.

If you have managed to stabilise the patient in a recovery position, they can be transported to the hospital.

What Are the 7 Components of the Basic Life Support (BLS) Algorithm?

Adult Basic Life Support Algoirithm for Healthcare Providers

Here are the major components of the BLS algorithm. This formula allows first aid practitioners and medical personnel to save a patient’s life.

1. Prompt Recognition of Cardiac Arrest

Knowing the signs of a cardiac arrest will allow those around the patient to react quickly. The symptoms will be a sudden collapse followed by a lack of pulse, consciousness, and no breaths.

If the patient got into an accident that led to their condition, responders would also need to check for obstructions of the mouth and airway.

2. Signs of Life from the Victim

It is vital to check for life signs and signs of consciousness from the victim. This involves forcefully tapping their shoulders, speaking loudly, and checking their eyelids, pulse, and breathing.

3. Call for Urgent Medical Emergency Assistance

Even a doctor or nurse would call for an ambulance if they responded to a cardiac arrest patient while out in public. This is because they lack the tools to ensure lifesaving care like an AED.

Medical emergencies also tend to draw in a crowd of spectators. You will thus need a certain amount of crowd control as well.

4. Early Effective CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation involves performing high-quality chest compressions (30 at a time) and rescue breaths (2 immediately after) into the patient’s airway until they can breathe again.

Suppose you perform lifesaving techniques, including CPR, and the patient is bleeding or unsanitary.

In that case, it is best to perform rescue breathing only if you have a barrier device to keep your lips away from theirs.

5. Early Defibrillation (AED)

BLS transitions to defibrillation if the chest compression and rescue breath combination are not working.

This entails attaching an AED to the chest of the victim. You can then follow the machine’s instructions and press the shock button to jolt the patient’s pulse back up in a way that CPR cannot.

The advantage of using an AED over a traditional defibrillator is that it allows you to conduct chest compressions and rescue breath in between jolts without unplugging the machine.

6. Early Advanced Life Support

Once paramedics have arrived and stabilised the patient for transport, they can use a bag mask to help the subject take manual breaths while their pulse is weak.

This includes CPR and other compressions performed on the victim before paramedics arrive!

They can thus be transported to the hospital, where they can be put on a ventilator.

7. Integrated Post-Cardiac Arrest Care

This care is meant to provide full recovery for the patient and ensure they can still have a life after their heart attack.

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What Are the 5 Steps of BLS Assessment?

Let’s examine the important steps when performing basic life support and adult CPR.

These steps are also known as the BLS survey. The BLS survey includes every external and internal factor to consider, from circulation to defibrillation of the patient.

These are the first things taught at BLS certification training and are drilled into first-aiders until they finish it perfectly.

Step 1: Scene Safety

It is vital to assess the area before entering, as scene safety will determine if it is safe to start CPR without worrying about debris, shrapnel, malicious intent, or other conditions.

Step 2: Assess Breathing

The next step when performing BLS is to assess the patient’s airway, breathing, and circulation.

It is unwise to perform chest compressions if their chest is caved in or their throat has a piece of metal sticking out.

CPR and other compressions are useless if factors do not allow the procedures to push through properly.

Step 3: Activate EMS

It is always best to call in professionals. Your role is to perform rescue breaths and CPR chest compressions until they arrive.

Step 4: Get the Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

Many public spaces with advanced first aid materials now possess their own AED machine. The AED can be operated by anyone with BLS certification, even if they forget how to use it.

The AED machine is intuitive, blaring pre-recorded instructions and beeping to help you keep the right pace when doing chest compressions and rescue breaths.

The AED is the ultimate CPR and BLS companion. It can turn anyone into a hero if they know how to follow its lead.

Step 5: CPR (Chest Compressions)

CPR is primarily a matter of chest compressions instead of rescue breaths because the breaths will go to waste if the patient’s heart is not carrying the oxygen across the body.

You will need to perform chest compressions in sets of 30 with 2 rescue breaths. CPR is a delicate balance between forcing the heart to start from under the ribs while being gentle enough not to puncture it.

The right speed and cadence to have when performing chest compressions are gained by following the beat to the BeeGees’ hit song “Staying Alive.” It has been a mainstay when chest compressions are concerned.


CPR picture

Adult CPR training is a useful skill to have. It allows qualified bystanders to increase the chances of survival for patients experiencing a heart attack.

Before you initiate CPR, you must first ensure your safety and competence. Certain companies will even sponsor the BLS+CPR training of their employees.

This will allow you to provide a more comprehensive BLS emergency response and keep loved ones or patients alive until the public safety professionals arrive.

If you would like to learn live saving skills, we provide a range of first aid courses starting from only £30PP.


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