PALS Basic Life Support (BLS)

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Basic Life Support (BLS) utilizes CPR and cardiac defibrillation when an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is available. BLS is the life support method used when there is limited access to advanced interventions such as medications and monitoring devices. In general, BLS is performed until the emergency medical services (EMS) arrives to provide a higher level of care. In every setting, high-quality CPR is the foundation of both BLS and PALS interventions. High-quality CPR gives the child or the infant the greatest chance of survival by providing circulation to the heart, brain, and other organs until return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC).

Take Note

This handbook covers PALS and only briefly describes BLS. All PALS providers are assumed to be able to perform BLS appropriately. It is essential that PALS providers be proficient in BLS first. High-quality BLS is the foundation of PALS.

Differences in BLS for Infants and BLS for Children

INFANTS (BIRTH – AGE 1) CHILDREN (AGE 1 – PUBERTY)
For children and infants, if two rescuers are available to do CPR, the compression to breaths ratio is 15:2.
If only one rescuer is available, the ratio is 30:2 for all age groups.
Check for infant’s pulse using the brachial artery on the inside of the upper arm between the infant’s elbow and shoulder Check for child’s pulse using the carotid artery on the side of the neck or femoral pulse on the inner thigh in the crease between the leg and groin.
Perform compressions on the infant using two fingers (if you are by yourself) or two thumbs with hands encircling the infant’s chest (with two rescuers). Perform compressions on a child using one or two handed chest compressions depending on the size of the child.
Compression depth should be one third of the chest depth; for most infants, this is about 1.5 inches. Compression depth should be one third of the chest depth; for most children, this is about two inches.
If you are the only person at the scene and find an unresponsive infant or child, perform CPR for 2 minutes BEFORE you call EMS or go for an AED.
If you witness a cardiac arrest in an infant or child, call EMS and get an AED before starting CPR.

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