CPR Seattle Blog

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Is the BLS Course Hard?

The short answer? 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. CPR Seattle successfully trains thousands of BLS students per year – and you can be one of those who master the How, When, Why, Where, and What of providing effective BLS.


What is BLS?


BLS stands for Basic Life Support (as opposed to ACLS which stands for Advanced Cardiac Life Support). Programs like the American Heart Association BLS Provider course, the American Red Cross BLS course, and the American Safety and Health Institute BLS course are designed to teach the techniques of high-quality CPR for professional healthcare workers, and all BLS courses require mastery of the same topics and skills. Those who require BLS training for employment can include:

  • Acupuncturists
  • Home care providers
  • Dental workers
  • CNAs
  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • EMTs
  • And many others

The main sections of the course are:

  • 1-rescuer Adult BLS (incl. use of pocket masks)
  • 2-rescuer Adult BLS (incl. use of AED and bag-valve masks)
  • Special Considerations (such as opioid overdose, maternal CPR, and Advanced Airway management)
  • Team Dynamics/High-performance Teams
  • Child BLS
  • Infant BLS
  • Choking

How Long Should a BLS Course Be?

The BLS Provider course runs approximately 3.5 hours. This ensures adequate time is spent on both knowledge development and skills practice. While you might see other companies offering BLS classes in only an hour or two, the only beneficiary of that type of class is their bottom line. Healthcare providers with integrity and pride in their work know that they need to be confident and effective in their skills, and there are no shortcuts to that.

This especially applies to companies offering “online-only” courses, often at low prices. However, you get what you pay for.  Those who take online-only courses usually find that 1) their skills are nowhere near as effective as they should be, and 2) their employer or certification board does not accept an online-only course as valid, meaning the student wasted both time and money on a low-quality course (and now must pay for another class). Make sure the BLS course you take provides the hands-on training you need and treats you with the same respect you treat your clients with.

How Do I Pass a BLS Class?

There are two basic requirements for passing the BLS Provider course – successful demonstration of Adult and Infant BLS skills and achieving a passing grade of 84% on the written (multiple choice) exam.

The skills tests require participants to show they have learned to perform all the steps required for 1 and 2-rescuer Adult CPR and for 1 and 2-rescuer Infant CPR (Child CPR is not tested separately).

Practice Matters!

Students will participate in extensive review and practice of all the skills before the tests are administered. This applies to all students, regardless of any previous BLS experience. CPR Seattle makes sure each student receives personalized and focused feedback from their instructor during the practice sessions.

CPR Seattle uses Laerdal QCPR manikins for all BLS courses so students can learn High-Quality CPR. These provide direct and constant visual feedback to students that indicate when correct compression depth, recoil, and rate are achieved. If students need correction, the feedback system provides it while CPR is taking place, allowing for immediate correction and compliance with skills requirements. This also gives students experience working with feedback devices, which are a best practice during actual resuscitation events.

The Written Exam is Open Book

The written exam is comprised of 25 questions that review the cognitive knowledge covered in the course and theory and application learned during the video-led or instructor-led portions of the BLS class.

Some of these questions are purely factual and some require the student to apply their knowledge to a real-life scenario.

Examples of some of the knowledge tested (these are not actual exam questions):

  • What’s the compression to breaths ratio for 2-rescuer child CPR? (15:2)
  • What’s the compression rate for 1-rescuer adult CPR? (Between 100 and 120 per minute)
  • What’s the first step when operating an AED? (turning on the AED)
  • What criteria determine if a person needs CPR? (unresponsive, no normal breathing, no pulse)

Note that the AHA BLS Provider written exam is open-resource; students are allowed to use any written materials (such as the course manual) as references for the written test.

Can BLS Skills Help Me Save a Life?

Of course, there’s a big difference between practicing CPR in the classroom and performing CPR in real life. While the individual skills of CPR are not difficult, without adequate practice, they may not be implemented quickly or effectively enough. But by making sure your training involves extensive hands-on practice and a thorough review of protocol, you’ve placed yourself in a great position to respond quickly and correctly when an emergency takes place.

Poor training results in poor CPR. You never know when someone might suffer cardiac arrest, or who it might happen to, so preparation is key to their survival.

And it’s not just your patients or clients you might have to help – it could be someone you know.

And you want to give them the best care you possibly can by getting the best training you possibly can.

So, to recap – in the CPR Seattle BLS Provider class you will learn:

  • How to provide high-quality BLS (effective techniques)
  • When to provide BLS (recognizing cardiac arrest)
  • Why to provide BLS (increased chances of survival)
  • Where to provide BLS (considerations for workplaces and in-home arrest)
  • What to provide during BLS (compressions, breaths, defibrillation)


Want More Practice?

And if you take a BLS Provider course from CPR Seattle, and later on feel like you could use a skills review and a bit of practice before your next renewal– just let us know! You can come in any time (schedule permitting) and have your own practice session with our friendly staff of CPR manikins – they’d love to see you back again!


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Published on March 23, 2022