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FIRST RESPONDERS applying basic life support intervention. (Shutterstock)

Knowing how to intervene when someone is injured is valuable knowledge. It could mean saving a life. There’s a way to learn this through the Basic Life Support (BLS) training which is now offered not only to medical professionals but also to anyone interested — those involved in activities that have a high risk of accidents, or those living with the elderly.

Basic Life Support is defined by the Red Cross as the “primary type of medical care that first responders or safety and healthcare professionals provide to one who is experiencing an emergency, such as cardiac arrest, respiratory distress, or an obstructed airway.” It is the primary action performed on an individual regardless of the type of emergency.

The common types of BLS are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, better known as CPR, defined by the Department of Health (DOH) as an emergency lifesaving technique that is used in many emergencies, which include heart attack or drowning incidents when someone’s breathing or heartbeat stops. When CPR is applied immediately to a person who is suffering from cardiac arrest, the application of BLS methods such as CPR can change the outcome of the situation, possibly saving the life of a person.

The conventional type of CPR is performed by medical professionals through chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing. While the general public is taught more on compression only-CPR, or hands-only CPR, according to the Red Cross.

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FIRST RESPONDERS practicing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) procedures. (Shutterstock)

Recently, a lawyer, and member of the Bureau of Fire Protection who has BLS training, revived a boy who drowned in Leyte, according to a report in Manila Bulletin (April 26. 2023).

BLS is an important skill to learn. BLS includes knowledge in a variety of emergency situations- from applying a tourniquet to a bleeding patient to helping remove a foreign-body airway obstruction (FBAO).

But most people do not know about this life-saving measure.

“It should be mandatory for high school [students], colleges, driver’s license [applicants], service industry workers, police, fire, traffic, security, and kasambahays,” said Michael Deakin, president, and CEO of Lifeline 16-911 Medical Inc., a private ambulance service provider that has responded to thousands of calls for help in the past 28 years.

He believes that BLS knowledge should be mandatory for every citizen. “It should be looked at like a basic skill of math, science, English, social studies, etc.”

The company Lifeline 16-911 Medical Inc., which according to Deakin, has trained “thousands of people over the years, from kasambahays to CEOs.”

The services they offer vary from emergency quick response, patient transfer, medical airlifts, and home care or diagnostics on-call services. They also offer a one-day course on BLS for those who want to learn more about it but have limited time, as well as a two-month-long EMT course for those who want to learn more about saving lives and want to make it into a career.

Lifetime is a recipient of the Manila Bulletin UPLIFT Award for Healthcare.

He also said that having knowledge on BLS is important “because it saves lives and empowers people with basic knowledge and will reduce panic and bad decisions when emergencies happen.”

“I believe in the saying that ‘it’s better to have it and don’t need it, than to need it and don’t have it,” said Vince Sta. Maria, a student and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He said that without knowing anything about BLS or related topics, he took up a course on EMT during the pandemic, and he became infatuated with the idea of having the skill to save lives, especially because of his love for outdoor activities.

From the course that taught him the necessary BSL skills, he learned about advanced techniques in lifesaving. This led him to volunteer as an EMT responder in January 2022.

To spread the knowledge, Vince also teaches CPR to people in rural areas, and at present counts some 80 people in Batangas and Meycauayan, Bulacan, who have attended his free training sessions.

Recently, he co-founded “1440 EMS Volunteer Group Inc.” based in Valenzuela City whose aim is to conduct BSL training to interested groups and also to volunteer assistance during natural calamities.

While it is an important skill to have, the way one individual reacts to a potential incident would ultimately decide the outcome of the situation.

“Can you imagine if you choked on a peanut or any food or you cut an artery because you fell off a bike? You have three to four minutes before you stop breathing or bleed out and a simple push in the stomach or pressure on the wound can prevent that. It saves lives,” said Deakin.

While its goal is not to heal the patient but to buy them valuable time until medical professional responders arrive, basic life support training teaches an individual how to handle different medical emergencies, what procedures to apply, and what should be done to increase the chances of survival. (Pancho Parian)

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