BLS vs CPR: What’s the Difference?

Figuring out how to help someone in a life-or-death situation is seldom easy. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is a first-aid technique used to keep people alive, and while there are several different certifications available to help you learn how to perform CPR there is some overlap involved if you plan on getting a BLS certification as well.

Knowing the difference between the two can be very helpful when planning your long-term career goals, so here is a general overview of the differences between CPR and BLS.


CPR refers specifically to a technique used by both common citizens and medical professionals to keep people from dying if they don’t have a heartbeat. This tends to consist of “rescue breaths” and “chest compressions” that are supposed to keep oxygen flowing throughout the victim’s body, but if they have a heartbeat and aren’t breathing then rescue breaths can be done by themselves.

Unless you know what you are doing and are certified, you should not attempt CPR so as not to harm the injured person more than they have been already. Luckily, CPR certifications are widely available either through in-person training or through CPR online courses and are often earned alongside other relevant career-oriented certifications like lifeguarding certifications.


BLS, on the other hand, stands for “Basic Life Support” and while getting a CPR certification might have some similarities to getting a BLS certification there is certainly a distinction between the two. BLS training is usually undergone by people whose careers are dedicated to keeping people alive in some form or fashion, with nurses being a prominent example. Someone with a BLS certification can expect to be able to apply a wider variety of techniques to keep someone alive and not all of those techniques will apply to every situation.

Other skills you might learn in a BLS course include how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator and clearing the airway of patients of every age, making BLS classes far more generalized than CPR classes on the whole. Still, you will be learning more information overall so obtaining some BLS training could potentially be more useful. You can even supplement your healthcare knowledge with Advanced Life Support classes if you so choose, making a BLS certification a great place to start if you want to build upon your health knowledge later on.

It is also important to note that there are a couple of different kinds of CPR certifications that are available and many jobs out there that require specific kinds of certifications depending on who you will be looking after. If you are a teacher, for example, you might need to get a Pediatric First-Aid, CPR, and AED certification.

In general, though, if you want to learn more after earning all of these certifications you should consider looking at BLS and ALS classes, but if you are satisfied with having only the basic requirements for a job or you just want to be prepared enough to keep someone alive until an EMT arrives on the scene then just being certified is sufficient.

A career in medical services is a noble one, but even if you don’t plan on being a doctor or a nurse you can still be prepared to help someone in need if you have to. Regardless of why you choose to learn about these lifesaving techniques, the people around you will be safer for it. Even if your medical expertise is limited to simply finding a free health insurance quote, it is never too late to learn more about how to be prepared just in case you find yourself or a loved one in trouble.

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