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Difference Between ALS and BLS

ALS vs BLS

ALS means Advance Life Support and BLS means Basic life Support. ALS and BLS are both life supporting mechanism but one is just basic and the other one is advanced.

Both the BLS and ALS are designed for pre-hospital life support and transportation of a patient to the hospital. A BLS unit will have two Emergency medical Technicians. On the other hand, an ALS unit will have a paramedic apart from the
Emergency medical Technician.

One of the main differences between Advance Life Support and Basic life Support is that the latter is non-invasive. This means that a BLS cannot use needles and other devices that makes cuts in the skin. The BLS providers cannot administer medicines. On the other hand, An ALS provider can give injection and even administer medication to a patient. An ALS can give basic treatment in case of cuts or injuries whereas a BLS person does not have the right to do it.

Unlike the BLS unit, an ALS unit will be equipped with airway equipment, cardiac life support, cardiac monitors and glucose testing device. A person with an AlS unit has to undergo more training than a person in the BLS unit.

Basic life Support can be called as the first step of treatment. A person who has taken BLS lessons know how to give assistance to a patient. Every person can take BLS lessons, which does not last for many months. The Advance Life Support lessons are generally preferred by doctors, nurses and the para medic staff.

When comparing ALS and BLS, the former one provides more treatment options.

Summary

  1. AlS means Advance Life Support and BLS means Basic life Support.
  2. A BLS unit will have two Emergency medical Technicians. On the other hand, an ALS unit will have a paramedic apart from the Emergency medical Technician.
  3. A BLS provider cannot use needles or other devices that makes cuts in the skin. The BLS providers cannot administer medicines. On the other hand, An ALS provider can give injection and even administer medication to a patient.
  4. An ALS provider can give basic treatment in case of cuts or injuries whereas a BLS person does not have the right to do it.
  5. Unlike the BLS unit, an ALS unit will be equipped with airway equipment, cardiac life support, cardiac monitors and glucose testing device.
  6. A person with an AlS unit has to undergo more training than a person in the BLS unit.

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2 Comments

  1. Dear readers,
    A BLS unit these days can do, are allowed to and must do more to save a person.
    More and more they have equipment like a defibillator and oxigen. That saves lifes. A BLS unit can and must give basic treatment in case of cuts or injuries.
    Yours, Clovis Buijs.

  2. I’m currently an EMT (so I provide BLS care). Much of this information is outdated and/or regionally-specific.

    Some definitions, to start with:
    — EMS = Emergency Medical Services, our professional field (includes both ALS and BLS services)
    — ALS = Advanced Life Support
    — BLS = Basic Life Support
    — EMT = Emergency Medical Technician, a certified BLS provider
    — Medic = Paramedic, a certified ALS provider

    When practicing medicine, both BLS and ALS crews operate within a “scope of practice” as defined by our local medical control officer (“MCO”). Different cities, counties, and states have different scopes of practice. So where I live, I can’t do cardiac monitoring as a BLS provider — that’s an ALS skill. But in, say, Montana, BLS crews can and do provide cardiac monitoring.

    Invasive procedures in the pre-hospital setting fall into this grey area of regionally-specific scopes of practice. Your local MCO defines “invasive.” For example, in my region, blood glucose sampling is a BLS skill, but establishing IV access is an ALS skill. In our neighbouring state, BLS providers can establish IV access. And in some other nearby states, blood glucose sampling is considered phlebotomy and is therefore an ALS skill. It all depends on your MCO’s protocol decisions, which reflect the local resources available to your patient population.

    BLS providers are authorized to give certain medications for certain combinations of signs and symptoms, as defined by regional protocols. Examples include glucose, aspirin, Narcan, and epinephrine. That’s because BLS can provide field treatment to patients with immediate, acute life-threatening conditions like diabetic emergencies, cardiac emergencies, overdoses and poisonings, and anaphylaxis. However, BLS is designed to transport medically-stable patients, meaning patients whose condition is not expected to deteriorate during transport. If a patient is medically unstable, they should be transported by ALS providers. ALS can provide more heavy-duty medications, establish IVs in the field, and perform advanced life support procedures.

    To see what specific providers can do in your area, look up your local protocols. Most regions publish their protocols online. You can also request a booklet from your local EMS agency. If they don’t have one, they’ll know where to get one.

    BLS stands for “basic life support,” ALS stands for “advanced life support.”
    These have specific definitions: they define your scope of practice. If you’re an EMT-B, you’re a BLS provider. If you’re a paramedic or nurse, you’re an ALS provider. ALS providers can provide BLS-level care, but not vice versa. So if you’re an EMT, you can only do the things listed under BLS in the local protocols. But if you’re a paramedic or nurse, you can do both BLS and ALS things.

    When prehospital care is dispatched to take care of a patient, we call that a “call.” Usually there’s one patient per call. Each call has one “lead” provider who’s responsible for making decisions about the patient. The lead is the highest-qualified member of the patient’s care team. In a prehospital setting, ALS qualifies higher than BLS. So if you have one nurse and two EMTs on a call, the nurse is the lead provider. However — just because a nurse is on an ambulance, doesn’t mean they’re on the call the ambulance is taking. Often when a nurse rig is dispatched to a BLS transport, the nurse remains peripheral to the call and one of the EMTs assumes patient care. Should the patient destabilize, the EMT can transfer patient care to the nurse, who then becomes the lead (and the call becomes ALS).

    As far as staffing goes, most ambulance companies in the States are privatized, meaning staffing decisions vary from ambulance to ambulance. It’s more expensive to pay nurses and medics than to pay EMTs. So many companies choose to staff ALS cars with one or two ALS providers and one to three BLS providers. (At my company, nurse rigs have one nurse and one or two EMTs, depending whether the nurse is EMT-certified.) BLS rigs generally have two to three EMTs and no ALS providers.

    Because EMS is closely related to other emergency services, many EMS companies work with their local fire department to address 911 calls. In many areas, all firefighters are required to have EMT certification and can provide BLS services in the field. Additionally, many fire departments have dedicated “fire medics,” which are firefighters who have gone through paramedic school and are certified ALS providers. That’s why you often see fire trucks at hospital ambulance bays. However, in order to free up resources, many fire departments contract with a single ambulance company per district to transport patients to the hospital.

    Hopefully this clears up some things. Best wishes as you pursue EMS. It’s a rewarding field with plenty of growth opportunities.

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