Every year there are probably hundreds of people who die out in the community simply because those around them do not have the skills, or the confidence to open an airway or initiate basic life support (BLS) interventions, or operate a public automated external defibrillator ( AED).

that’s ELS not BLS.

The ability to provide effective BLS (or, as it should perhaps be known essential life support) and the familiarity to be confident enough to use an AED if it is indicated, is such an important part of the chain of survival.
Effectively performed chest compressions can sustain the heart in a defibrllatable rhythm for an extra 10 to 12 minutes, and early defibrillation is the most effective intervention we can perform to increase survival in cardiac arrest.
What about opening an obstructed airway?
It is that initial response-ability of those first on scene that makes all the difference to the long term outcome of the victim.

Currently, many courses that teach BLS (eg St Johns Ambulance, Red Cross and many others) charge a fee (around $65 – 70) which although small, in toady’s economic environment, may dissuade many who might otherwise be keen to learn these skills.

I think that the provision of regular, accessable and  free BLS training to the general public is an important community service that all public hospitals should participate in.
Such a program might include:

  • Adult and paediatric BLS.
  • Management of a choking adult/child.
  • Use of public AED’s.
  • Practical aspects of dealing with a medical emergency, including what info to give when dialing emergency services, what paramedics might want to know when they arrive etc.
  • Teamwork.
    BLS is a team effort. Such a course could give tips on working together with others during any resuscitation attempts.

Such a course could also be linked into existing hospital cardiac rehab programs, teaching family and friends of cardiac patients a BLS skill-set that might help improve their confidence in caring for family members.

After all, this is not rocket science.
And who better to pass on these simple skills than doctors and nurses who have extensive practical experience in it’s actual application.

Call for help:

In order to provide free and easy access to training, and to raise the overall public competency in BLS, I am currently working towards getting such a course up and running at my own hospital.
So… If there is anyone who has knowledge of any similar sort of program that is already up and running at their own hospital, I would love to hear from you.
Specifically, I would like information on what sort of content the program contains, how often it runs and what sort of success it may have achieved.

BLS training. It is one of those things that can produce a very valuable return for a relatively small effort.

3 Responses to “free Basic Life Support training.”

  1. Dr Peter Kas is one of the ED consultants at RPA – he runs courses for ED staff (for a fee, with other clinicians as a private company) but I know he’s working on providing free BLS courses to the wider community, using volunteer ED RNs, Drs etc as instructors. I’m not sure how far he’s gotten in planning etc, but he might be someone to talk to about the logistics of getting something like this organized. The website for the company is http://www.resus.com.au and there’s a contact email list there.

  2. Is this course accredited and do i get a certificate of completion?

  3. I think this is a fantastic idea, but you’d likely need to get some government funding to run it – or were you planning to do it on your own time? You might have an issue getting enough committed staff in the long term if it was on a volunteer basis (I imagine you work enough hours per week already!).

    Is there sufficient case for this type of training in the ACT? You’d have to look at the number of situations where someone receiving BLS ‘in the field’ might have been able to change or improve their outcome. How would you then measure the success of the program? Increased percentage of incidents where someone performed BLS / first aid?

    You may need to have a program accredited – this, as well as curriculum design, could be avoided if you were able to arrange to use/ leverage off the curriculum of an organisation like The Red Cross or St John’s Ambulance – but I’m sure there’d be a cost involved in that. ANU Medical School may have some similar content for their early-year students that you could pare down? They may be willing to let you use it at a lesser cost, seeing as you wouldn’t be competing with them. Would there be any legal implications for you/ the hospital if someone was to try to sue because the BLS person made mistakes?

    Online learning may be an option, at least for some aspects, like the practical ‘what do I need to tell the paramedics’ type thing – but I don’t think you can really teach BLS properly without a practical session. Do you have mannequins at the hospital that would be available for use? Again, partnering with the ANU Medical School might be an option here. Having a couple would be ideal – I’d say no more than four trainees per mannequin, or if you couldn’t manage that, you might be able to have the participants rotating through ‘stations’ – BLS, then a video on practicalities, then the AED etc – but that would require substantially more staff.

    In terms of your target market, I’d say a reasonable proportion of uni students might go for this sort of thing (more flexible schedules, might perceive themselves to be more likely to be in a situation where BLS/ first aid could be required) – you may also be able to make enquiries through high schools, colleges and community groups as well.

    I hope this post comes across in the manner it’s intended – I really do think this is a fantastic idea! I’m just trying to make sure you’ve got all the big issues covered.

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