A Basic Life Services Certificate, or BLS certification, is a necessary step on the path to becoming a live-in caregiver. It’s also a prerequisite for many other occupations, including physicians, firefighters, nurses, and various other healthcare providers.

Some certification courses are designed and taught by the American Red Cross with final approval coming from their scientific advisory council. There are also alternative certifications available from the American Heart Health Association as well as other third-party providers.

If you’re pursuing a career as a live-in healthcare provider, then you’ve probably run into this term multiple times. You may even be wondering if it’s any different from the CPR certification that you’ve already received. Following is a breakdown of exactly what this certification is, how it differs from CPR certifications, and how you can receive your BLS certification as quickly as possible.

An Introduction To Basic Life Services

BLS courses cover a lot of material ranging from the proper use of bag valve masks to how to perform two-person CPR. In truth, much of what is covered is the same material that would be covered in a CPR course. For that reason, BLS is often referred to as “Healthcare Provider Level CPR”.

This simply means it includes all of the basic CPR material in addition to a small amount of advanced material that would really only be useful to a healthcare provider. An average person may take a standard CPR class just to prepare for emergencies, but only someone interested in becoming a healthcare provider would pursue a full BLS course.

BLS may be more advanced than a standard CPR course, but it’s not extremely difficult to learn and master. After all, the “B” stands for “Basic”. This is one of the most basic courses and certifications that a healthcare provider can receive. It’s also one of the most important. It’s nearly impossible to secure a reliable position as a live-in healthcare provider if you haven’t received the certification.

One of the primary focuses during the course is the ABCs of survival. ABC stands for airway, breathing, and circulation. The goal is to clear any obstructions from the airways, make sure the lungs are able to fill with air, and ensure that blood is flowing properly through the body.

How Long Does Certification Take?

The good news is that certification is a fairly quick and straightforward process. If you’re already CPR certified, then you’ll already understand most of the material. Most people can finish the courses within a few hours using either online or a combination of online and in-person classes.

The in-person classes do offer a more hands-on approach for those who are struggling, but if you’re comfortable with the material, then finishing the course online can be more convenient.

The in-person classes use a medical dummy to teach basic techniques and procedures. Again, the structure of the class and the teaching methods will all seem very familiar if you have your CPR certification. If you don’t have your CPR certification, then you should definitely attend the class in-person and familiarize yourself with these life-saving techniques using the medical dummy.

Organizations That Offer BLS Certification

The two major organizations that offer BLS certifications are the American Heart Health Association(AHHA) and the American Red Cross(ARC). Both courses are very similar and the certification they provide will work equally well, but they each still have their advantages.

The course available from the Red Cross is called BLS/CPR For Healthcare. Courses are available in cities throughout the country. Completing the course and passing the exam will earn you a BLS certification card. The card and the certification will last for two years from the date of certification.

Keeping your certification up to date is very important if you work in a healthcare profession. You can seek re-certification starting thirty days from the expiration date of the card. As long as you seek certification within thirty days of the expiration date you will not need to take the full BLS course again. Instead, you will take an abbreviated review course which grants certification for an additional two years.

Certification from the Red Cross is visible on the card as well as their website. Potential employers can visit the Red Cross website and enter your ID number to validate the certification. The card also has a QR code that they can scan with a smartphone if they choose to do so. In either case, they will be able to view your BLS certification as well as its expiration date.

The AHHA is unique because it offers in-person classes as well as “blended” courses. A blended course takes place primarily online with a few in-person sessions. As mentioned earlier, this is recommended for professionals who already have experience with CPR or BLS. Otherwise, you’ll find that it’s much easier to learn in-person at one of the many available training centers.

The course from the AHHA is slightly longer than the Red Cross alternative. It will take around 4.5 hours to complete and includes a number of additional tests. The extra time required is small, but it does allow instructors to include additional material that you’ll need to know as a live-in healthcare provider.

The certification will need to be renewed similar to the Red Cross BLS certification. The AHHA also provides a review-type course for those who simply need to renew their BLS card. The review course will still take roughly 3 hours to complete.