Basic life support (BLS) is employed in cardiorespiratory arrest and includes assessment of the collapsed person, maintaining airway patency, delivering expired air ventilation and external chest compressions (Resuscitation Council UK 2000a). It acts to support ventilation until the causes of arrest can be ascertained and, where possible, treated with defibrillation and drugs. Any delay in the administration of such life-preserving actions can result in permanent cerebral damage and therefore BLS must be initiated, following the recommended sequence of actions, as soon as a cardiac arrest is confirmed.

This chapter presents the principles of basic life support (BLS). LEARNING OUTCOMES

At the end of the chapter the reader should be able to:

□ identify the safety issues associated with BLS;

□ describe the sequence of actions undertaken in BLS;

□ describe the techniques of BLS delivery;

□ discuss the differences between lay person and in-hospital BLS;

□ outline the approach to initiating treatment with two rescuers;

□ discuss the management of choking adults;

□ describe the sequence of actions undertaken in using the recovery position;

□ outline the recommendations and developments in the use of the automated external defibrillators in BLS.

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