BLS vs CPR : What’s the Difference? - Avive AED (2024)

September 21, 2022 4 mins read

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)andBasic Life-Support (BLS)are similar types of training that can prepare you to save a life! Certifications are not necessary to be competent in either, but are highly regarded and required by certain occupations and volunteer positions. You can be certified in either, or both.

Let’s take a closer look at both types of training and learn the difference between BLS vs CPR!

BLS vs CPR : What’s the Difference? - Avive AED (1)

BLS vs CPR: Understanding the Difference

CPRis a method for manually pumping blood to a person’s vital organs and breathing air into their lungs when their heartbeat or breathing has stopped.CPR training courses teach people how to help victims ofSudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)in non-medical settings while awaiting emergency responders to arrive and take over.CPR can help save lives and minimize thedamaging effectsof SCAthat can occur while waiting for emergency responders, such as brain injury.

The compression rate forhigh-quality CPRis between 100 and 120 compressions per minute.

There are two types of CPR, Hands-Only CPR and conventional (or traditional) CPR.

Conventional CPR

Conventional CPR involves a cycle of chest compressions and rescue breaths. For adults, the correct rate of one cycle of CPR is two breaths for every 30 compressions. For smaller children and infants, if there are two rescuers delivering CPR, the cycle is two rescue breaths for every 15 compressions. However, if there is only one rescuer, two breaths every 30 seconds is acceptable. That way, the rescuer can perform CPR for longer without becoming too exhausted to continue.

Learn more about the differences between giving anadult, child, or infant CPR.

Hands-Only CPR

Hands-only CPRsimply involves pushing hard and fast on the center of the victim’s chest. It does not include delivering rescue breaths, like standard CPR does. The purpose of hands-only CPR is to get blood pumping through the victim’s body until paramedics arrive on the scene.

CPR Classes

Anyone can become CPR certified by taking classes from organizations likethe American Red Crossorthe American Heart Association. Often, people with the following jobs might need to become CPR certified as a term of their employment:

  • Teachers, camp counselors, coaches or anyone who works with youth
  • Lifeguards
  • Certified nursing assistants
  • Construction workers
  • Etc.

Most CPR classesuse a combination of lecture instruction and hands-on practice to cover the following:

  • How to recognize the signs of SCA
  • How to perform single-rescuer and team rescue CPR
  • Hands-only CPR
  • Conventional CPR
  • How to avoid over-ventilating the patient
  • How to use an AED
  • Basic first aid skills

Sign-up for aCPR Class!

LearnHow To Do CPR

What is BLS?

According to theAmerican Red Cross, BLS generally refers to the type of care that first-responders provide to anyone who is experiencing cardiac arrest, respiratory distress or a blocked airway. CPR is one component of BLS training.

BLS includes CPR and AED training, as well as how to treat foreign-body airway obstruction (choking), and is taught from the perspective of providing care in and out of medical settings. BLS is a prerequisite among many health and public safety organizations, as well as licensing boards.

BLS Classes

BLS classes are typically designed as foundational courses for health care providers and first responders, such as:

  • Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics
  • Nurses
  • Firefighters

But anyone can take (and should) take a BLS Certification class!

Content typically covered in a BLS course includes:

  • Chain of Survival
  • Rapid assessment and visual survey
  • Adult, child and infant CPR & AED training
  • Multi-rescuer team CPR
  • Relief of choking
  • Ventilations using various types of devices
  • Critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and teamwork
  • Emergency medical services system overview
  • Legal considerations
  • Precautions

Some BLS courses may also cover issues related to other emergencies such as opioid-associated life-threatening emergencies.

Sign-upfor a BLS course near you.

Learn more about the difference betweenAdvanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Basic Life Support (BLS).

Difference Between BLS and CPR

The main distinction is that BLS is more comprehensive and is geared toward medical professionals and first responders, whereas CPR and AED use are skills anyone can learn. To clarify, anyone can attend and obtain either certification, and doing so would be a great way to safeguard yourself and those around you.


A certification document is proof of your capability with a particular skill set. Being certified in CPR or BLS means that you’ve been trained, educated and are prepared to perform the lifesaving skills taught in the course.

To become certified in CPR or BLS, you must attend an accredited class, learn the methods involved, and pass a test. CPR and BLS certifications need to be renewed every two years from the completion date for safety assurance. Both types of certification classes typically only require a few hours.


Not only does being BLS or CPR certified look great on a resume, the primary benefit of both types of training is that they prepare you to save a life! You never know when or where SCA will strike. Cardiac Arrest is amassive public health problem, killing about 350,000 people in the United States each year.

Thankfully, there are things individuals can do to improve SCA outcomes in their communities. Learning the difference between BLS vs CPR, and arming yourself with lifesaving skills is a great first step, allowing you to respond quickly, properly and confidently when emergency strikes.

Learn more about howAvive is working to improve SCA outcomes in communitiesacross the U.S.

Published on September 21, 2022 Last Updated on May 18, 2023

BLS vs CPR : What’s the Difference? - Avive AED (2024)


BLS vs CPR : What’s the Difference? - Avive AED? ›

The main distinction is that BLS is more comprehensive and is geared toward medical professionals and first responders, whereas CPR and AED use are skills anyone can learn. To clarify, anyone can attend and obtain either certification, and doing so would be a great way to safeguard yourself and those around you.

Is CPR and AED the same as BLS? ›

While a BLS course and a CPR course both cover resuscitation, there are differences between the two. Red Cross CPR/AED courses are the foundation of safety training and satisfy OSHA-mandated job requirements and most workplace safety requirements.

Is CPR AED level C the same as BLS? ›

CPR Level:

A – CPR Sequences on Adults. C – CPR Sequences on Adults, Children and Babies. BLS – Basic Life Support (NEW – Replaced CPR/AED Level HCP – additional skills for Health Care Providers/Professionals that work in a facility or a group response setting).

Do you still do CPR with an AED on? ›

Yes! If the victim's heart has returned to a regular rhythm, it is still important for bystanders to continue CPR after using an AED, especially if the patient is not breathing on their own.

What's the difference between BLS and first aid? ›

Unlike BLS, which focuses on giving immediate care at the scene in order to stabilize and support life functions through basic techniques like CPR, rescue breaths, and/or the use of an AED Until Help Arrives, first aid courses primarily teach non-medical individuals how to respond to people experiencing various health ...

Is AED used in BLS? ›

The AED will advise you to deliver a shock. Ensure that no one is in contact with the victim. Press the Shock button. If the AED does NOT detect a shockable rhythm, it will tell you to resume CPR.

Is BLS hard to pass? ›

No, the class is not generally considered difficult – however, compared to lay rescuer CPR & First Aid classes, there is a greater amount of information covered and the skill requirements are slightly more technical.

Can you use an AED without CPR? ›

Even without CPR training, no one need be afraid to unpack an AED device, connect it to the patient, and turn it on. The AED can do most of the heavy lifting by itself.

Do you have to choose between CPR and AED? ›

As an AED becomes available, you'll be using both methods to try and keep the victim alive until professionals arrive. So, when wondering should you perform CPR before or after an AED, it is essential to remember that you must start as soon as possible, possibly with CPR, while someone gets the AED.

How many rounds of CPR before AED? ›

After performing five cycles of CPR (which totals 30 compressions and 2 breaths per cycle for a total of 10 breaths), rescuers should assess for signs of responsiveness and breathing. If the person still does not show signs of breathing, an automated external defibrillator (AED) should be applied as soon as available.

What is better than a BLS? ›

ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiac Life Support and is also referred to as ALS, or Advanced Life Support, but they cover the same techniques. This type of training builds on BLS techniques with more sophisticated interventions and procedures.

Is basic cardiac life support the same as BLS? ›

Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) are just the same course, designed to teach the fundamentals of CPR and how to respond to medical emergencies. Although the titles differs depending on the organization offering the certificate, the content of the courses is essentially the same.

What is equivalent to BLS? ›

Basic life support (BLS) includes CPR but is an overall higher level of medical care typically administered by public safety professionals, first responders, paramedics, healthcare providers, and qualified bystanders.

What is the difference between BLS and heart Saver CPR? ›

BLS delves deeper into CPR techniques, emphasizing the importance of high-quality chest compressions and advanced airway management. Heartsaver covers basic CPR techniques suitable for laypersons, focusing on maintaining blood circulation until professional help arrives.

What are the different types of BLS? ›

Basic Life Support (BLS) is available in two different training methods – blended learning and classroom training.

Is defibrillation part of BLS? ›

It reemphasizes that the critical lifesaving steps of BLS are (1) prevention, (2) immediate recognition and activation of the emergency response system, (3) early high-quality CPR, and (4) rapid defibrillation for shockable rhythms.


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