Basic life support (BLS) is the fundamental approach to saving lives following cardiac arrest.  Primary aspects of BLS include immediate recognition of sudden cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system, early cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and rapid defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator. Initial recognition and response to heart attack and stroke are also considered part of BLS.


Assess Victim & Get Help

Responsive Patient

  • Maintain patient in present position
  • Check condition
  • If alone, get help, or if available, send someone for help
  • Reassess regularly

Unresponsive Patient

  • Shout for help
  • Maintain patient in present position if able to assess
  • If unable to assess in present position, turn victim on to his back

If head or neck injury suspected, move the victim only if necessary

Assess Breathing & Circulation

  • Pulse & breathing should be checked simultaneously
  • Briefly check for breathing (abnormal breathing, gasping or absence of breathing)
    • Gasping is NOT normal & should be treated as if patient is not breathing
  • Pulse check is quickly performed
    • Rescuer should spend <10 sec in checking for pulse
    • If there is no definite pulse, start CPR
    • Use automated external defibrillator (AED) once available
    • If a definite pulse cannot be felt, rescuer should begin CPR
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