What is a Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification (BLS vs CPR)?
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Brenden Macias

Brenden Macias

Owner of Key CPR and a Certified Instructor

What is a Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification (BLS vs CPR)?

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What is a Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification (BLS vs CPR)?

Unlike a standard CPR certification, a Basic Life Support (BLS) certification is a special type of CPR certification geared towards healthcare providers (Nurses, EMTs, Lifeguards, etc.). The emphasis of BLS is on high performance CPR while working in teams. Additional equipment is used for providing ventilations (pocket masks and bag valve masks (BVM)).  BLS certifications are valid for 2 years.

BLS Certification courses cover Adult, Child, and Infant skills as well as covering advanced techniques for fine tuning care to the patients needs by switching up compression to ventilation ratios in different situations as well as other modifications. BLS courses also cover what to do for breathing emergencies like respiratory arrest and obstructed airway (choking). As of 2019 the American Red Cross BLS certification also includes a section on opioid overdose and administering Naloxone (Narcan) to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose.

Who Needs BLS Certification?

BLS Certification is a job requirement for many professions that work in Healthcare and First Responder roles. Some of the jobs requiring BLS Certification include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • EMTs and Paramedics
  • Medical Assistants
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists
  • Lifeguards
  • Firefighters
  • Police Officers
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How do I get BLS Certification?

A Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification is earned by passing a BLS Certification course, generally from either the American Red Cross or American Heart Association. These courses include lecture, hands-on skills, as well as testing. The testing is both written and skill based.

A BLS Certification Course can be completed in full in an Instructor Led (classroom only) environment as well as with a hybrid Blended Learning delivery method where part of the course and testing is completed online and the skills portion of the class are completed in a classroom with an instructor using training aids (manikins, AED trainers, BVMs, etc.).

Once the course is successfully completed a participant is issued a BLS certification that is valid for 2 years.

Who Needs BLS Certification?

How long Does it take to get a BLS Certification?

The American Red Cross instructor led (classroom only) course takes about 4 hours to complete. It covers everything needed to know to get a BLS certification and also includes time for testing.

The Blended Learning (online + classroom) course can vary a bit more depending on how fast the online portion is completed. The American Red Cross online course allows participants to take evaluations and skip parts of the lecture if they test out of them. The online course can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 4 hours, with 2.5 – 3 hours being the norm. The classroom skill check portion of the class takes 2 hours to complete and includes skills testing.

How long does it take to get BLS Certified

How Much Does BLS Certification Cost?

BLS certification costs vary depending on the delivery method (classroom only vs blended learning), the provider that is used, and the regional cost in your area. Most BLS providers also offer group discounts that can lower the costs substantially.

The American Red Cross offers a simple all-inclusive pricing model where you pay one fee that covers everything you need to get your certification (online courses, classroom skills check, student manual, certification, and training supplies). It generally costs about $75 for the Blended Learning (online + classroom) Course, and $85 for the Instructor Led (classroom only) course but the prices do vary so be sure to check the American Red Cross as well as your local licensed training providers.

The American Heart Association (AHA) BLS course pricing is a little more complex. The online course, classroom skills check, and student manual generally must be purchased separately in order to have all that you need to get your BLS Certification. It generally costs about $79 for the Blended Learning (online + classroom) course, and $83 for the Instructor Led (classroom only) course but the prices do vary so be sure to check your local licensed providers.

Be sure to check with your employer because they might cover reimbursement for your training which could mean that it won’t cost you anything at all.

Learn more about American Red Cross vs American Heart Association BLS Certifications…


Does BLS Certification Include First Aid?

While some of the training does overlap with First Aid, like the initial scene size up and patient assessment, the BLS Certification Course does not generally cover First Aid training specifically. Seeing that BLS + First Aid is a common job requirement most training providers do provide course offerings with BLS + First Aid for an additional fee.

First Aid Classes and Certification

How to Renew a BLS Certification?

Most people renew their BLS Certification by taking the regular BLS Certification Course to get a new certification. Recertification classes are sometimes available, although they are not as common. The BLS Renewal/Recertification Course is a shortened version of the Instructor Led (classroom only) course. To renew a certification a participant must either hold a current BLS Certification or have one that expired within 30 days of the date of the BLS Renewal Course.

If a participant is very familiar with the BLS guidelines they could also take the full Blended Learning (online + classroom) course and strive to pass all the initial assessments in the online course. This would cut down quite a bit of the time that the online course normally takes to complete (it’s possible to complete the online portion in 45 minutes), thus offering a quicker path with the Blended Learning option that most people prefer.

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Learn More About BLS Certification In CA

Are you interested in learning more about Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification? Are you interested in onsite training for employees or group discounts?

Contact Key CPR today to speak with our knowledgeable staff about training questions and options. We would be happy to provide you with a free quote. Together we can make our community a safer place to Live, Play, and Work.

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