General Concepts of Basic Life Support

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States and is responsible for over 600,000 deaths every year. Research continues to improve how we respond with life-saving techniques to emergencies. These techniques are based on the most current research and are organized into a systematic response called the Chain of Survival, which begins with Basic Life Support (BLS). The Chain of Survival provides the victim the best chance to receive the care needed and return to a healthy life.

The heart pumps blood through the lungs, where blood takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. This blood then returns to the heart where it is pumped out to vital organs—the heart and brain—as well as the rest of the body. When the heart stops, blood flow stops, and the person quickly becomes unconscious. Without blood flow, the heart and the brain quickly become damaged due to a lack of oxygen. The actions that make up BLS try to prevent or slow the damage until the cause of the problem can be corrected. BLS improves a person’s chance of surviving until advanced care becomes available.

Taking the right action quickly and confidently can make the difference between life and death for a person dealing with cardiac arrest.

Keys for BLS:

  • Quickly start the Chain of Survival.
  • Deliver high-quality chest compressions to circulate oxygen to the brain and vital organs.
  • Know when and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
  • Provide rescue breathing.
  • Understand how to work with other rescuers as part of a team.
  • Know how to treat choking.