The concept of Advanced Life Support (ALS) was made to accompany the Basic Life Support (BLS) guidelines from the AHA. BLS programs deal with the management of cardiac arrest before a victim has received any form of medical help. This is a very important part in helping save someone’s life because mere minutes can mean the difference between life and death for that person. ALS, on the other hand, teaches trainees how to give CPR and medically manage cardiac arrest, usually done in a hospital’s emergency room.
Why study CPR?
CPR is an important lifesaving skill that allows a person to manually pump the heart during cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest can happen because of heart attack or a stroke, which causes poor blood flow to the heart. When the heart doesn’t receive oxygenated blood to keep it functioning, it stops beating – a condition known as cardiac arrest. CPR uses chest compressions and rescue breaths to get the heart circulating oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.
Studies have shown that immediate start to compressions can drastically improve the survival rates of a victim. Emergency medical services in the US are fast – but a few seconds of compressions can mean a world of difference as the body’s organs start to shut down without adequate blood flow.
Training in BLS vs ALS
BLS and ALS training always go hand in hand, especially for people in healthcare. BLS has a program for the general public but ALS programs are just for HCPs. Laymen just need to know the basics in giving CPR, not more or less. ALS programs highly specialized areas of learning. The information gained through an ALS course will only be helpful to a person with a background knowledge in healthcare.
Getting training in Advanced Cardiac Life Support
There are two kinds of ALS training – one for adult victims and one for pediatric victims. Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) teaches trainees how to manage cardiac arrest in an adult victim. The program curriculum includes introduction to the equipment used in CPR in a hospital setting. Equipment such as bag valve masks, ET tubes, ventilators are typically used during and after cardiac arrest. The indications and adult dosages for medication is also included in ACLS training, primarily drugs used during cardiac arrest and those used during post-cardiac arrest care.
How to use an echocardiogram is also part of ACLS training. An ECG is a machine that can detect heart rhythms. This is a function usually seen in a defibrillator. However, unlike the AED, an ECG is merely a a diagnostic tool. Problems in heart rhythm can be precursors to a heart attack or cardiac arrest, which means than HCPs need to be able to recognize abnormal heart rhythms and their management.
Becoming a certified rescuer
To qualify for ACLS training, the trainee needs to have a valid BLS for HCPs training certificate. The ACLS credentials are given after the student passes the post-tests given at the end of the program. The credentials are valid for two years and can be renewed through re-certification