BLS Certification vs. ACLS

What is the difference between BLS and ACLS? BLS teaches the basics of initiating CPR and gaining quick access to an AED. The majority of healthcare workers are required to become BLS certified at minimum. ACLS certification, on the other hand, teaches people how to read EKG rhythms and determine if a heart rhythm is shockable or not. It also goes over the medications required for different scenarios. ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiac Life Support, and is exactly that.

Most careers requiring ACLS certification fall under the realm of nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists. When in the hospital setting, a code blue may be called and all of these professionals respond to those codes. They each have a different role such as performing compressions, managing the airway, controlling the AED, recording what is happening, being the team leader, and administering medications. Everyone comes together to try to save a life.

If you would like to watch a mock code, click here. The nurse finds her patient unresponsive, calls a code, and has many people show up to help her. She gives them a short background on her patient to better allow the team to treat the patient. The crash cart brought into the room typically has the AED or defibrillator on top, and the drawers are full of medications and materials likely to be needed during a code. The team leader, or physician, will call for different medications to be administered and the recorder will chart in the patient’s record which medications are given and at what time. A good code team functions like a well-oiled machine! If you would like to learn more about CPR and how to operate an AED, sign up for a BLS course here. This knowledge can be useful in so many settings because you never know when a family member might need your help!

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