How Many Ways Can You Say “BLS”?

A few weeks ago, I was discussing a film project with some producers out of Hollywood.  They casually tossed out the acronym, “P&A”, which I heard as “PNA” over my cell phone.  In my line of business PNA means pneumonia and while I consider myself rather acronym-savvy, I was almost certain PNA in this discussion had nothing to do with pneumonia.  I had no clue what they were talking about.  (FYI – P&A in the film industry represents “prints and ads”).


Out of curiosity, I wanted to find out how many meanings the familiar BLS acronym owned.  So, I did a little research and discovered forty-one different meanings for the acronym BLS.  Wow!  As I scrolled through the lengthy list of BLS titles, I was amazed to find a myriad of meaning staring back at me from the page.  Everything from “Bureau of Labor Statistics” to “Bacterial Leaf Streak” was represented.  Most of those listed made perfect sense and I wondered how one secures BLS as his own personal acronym.  Is there a process to grab hold of these three letters and assign meaning behind them – meaning that belongs to only you?


I envisioned a long line of BLS acronym-snaggers standing in front of a caged bubblegum- snapping blonde who would absent-mindedly stamp something on a certificate and call out, “Next?” as she glanced up from her work only occasionally.  Patiently waiting and always proper stood the British Lichen Society just ahead of Botswana Lesotho-Swaziland.  Tapping an impatient toe nearly “next” stands a representative from the Blackboard Learning System while someone from the Bachelor of Leisure Studies and Business Livery Service casually exchange cards near the back of the room.  Unexpectedly, Black Label Society (band) breaks out into their latest hit and the next songbird from Boston’s Latin School joins in.   Throw in Block Line Set and Below Land Surface and you have an eclectic gathering of meaning in the mix.


Of course this is all fabricated in my mind but one has to wonder how all of these businesses came to share the same acronym.  As I think about the forty-one representations, I smile as I realize our BLS is the only one that everyone uses to save lives.  Perhaps BLS (Basic Life Support) could be crowned the universal, international life-saving acronym.  It is certain that any other BLS acronym-user will know the significance of Basic Life Support, possibly even how to perform its life-saving techniques if needed.  There is a weighty shift in importance for BLS as it represents the process for saving a life.


I think that puts BLS at the front of the line, don’t you?


(information obtained from

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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.

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