Although you never hope that an emergency arises, as a BLS practitioner it's your job to be prepared to respond quickly, and appropriately. In order to do so, there are certain BLS steps that you'll need to perform every time, and some steps that you'll only have to perform on an as-needed basis.
Here, we'll outline some high-level steps that apply to most scenarios, and provide you with reference materials that you can use to examine the steps required during specific situations.
Scene Safety | Primary Assessment | Additional Care1
Because you can't help those in need effectively if a scene is unsafe, it's imperative that you size up the situation quickly. In order to do so, take a moment to evaluate the scene based on these questions:
- Do you see anything unsafe (traffic, fire, downed electrical lines, etc.)? Is there immediate danger involved?
- Are you wearing appropriate personal protection equipment?
- What's the mechanism of injury or nature of the illness you've been asked to help treat?
- How many patients are involved?
- What is your initial impression of the patient(s)? Are they awake? Do they look sick or not sick? Is there any severe life-threatening bleeding?
- Who else on scene can help? Do you need to call for additional care such as Advanced Life Support or a Code Team?
The steps to perform BLS services will vary by patient. However, regardless of what type of BLS care you'll ultimately provide, you'll always need to assess your patient. Assessments typically begin with:
- Checking your patient's level of consciousness.
- Evaluating his or her breathing and pulse.
Based on the findings from your basic assessment, you'll continue with additional BLS steps that may range from providing rescue breaths for a patient in respiratory arrest or providing CPR and using an AED for patients in cardiac arrest to providing care for an obstructed airway. To review all of the steps you that may need to follow in order to deliver the appropriate level of care, download the Red Cross BLS Handbook for Healthcare Providers.