CPR, BLS and the ABC’s

Frequent reference to these familiar letters lead to confusion by those who wonder about an interchangeable use of the acronyms.  So what do they mean individually and how are they appropriately used?


The easiest way to differentiate between the three is to define each one, identifying their purpose at the same time:


CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) consists of providing a combination of mouth-to-mouth respirations and chest compression on a victim.


BLS (Basic Life Support) is the training and certification received to provide CPR after passing off specific skills demonstrating proficiency in the protocols.


“ABC’s” is the catch-phrased used to help BLS trained responders remember the order of their actions while administering CPR.  In short, ABC represents “Airway – Breathing – Circulation”.


Medical lingo is not always recognizable by non-health care professionals (aka: the layperson). However the common use for acronyms such as those listed above is becoming more prevalent outside of the health care profession.  This is particularly so with the increase in CPR training for communities and professionals alike.  With an increase in public awareness for opportunities to take courses made available through professional companies such as Sure Fire CPR in Orange County, California and fire stations locally, a larger population of well-trained BLS providers exists.


Educated in the basics of supporting the ABC’s of CPR, the BLS provider is an asset to his community and ready for that unexpected event should it occur and that’s an A-OK way to be!

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About the author

I spent 15 years as a firefighter and paramedic...

And too often I would arrive on the scene of someone unconscious, surrounded by a circle of people feeling helpless. Sometimes those people would even have CPR training but lacked the confidence and experience to act.

That’s why I started SureFire CPR. Our classes are practical and engaging – teaching you the crucial skills you need to know what to do and feel empowered to take action.

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Zack Zarrilli, Founder

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