AHA releases new CPR course for field providers

The new CPR course focuses specifically on BLS care, and uses realistic training and scenarios

EMS professionals are a critical link in successful resuscitation from cardiac arrest. Approximately 400,000 Americans experience an out-of hospital cardiac arrest every year and only 10 percent survive. However there has never been a CPR course tailored to EMS professionals until now.

The American Heart Association released, for the first time, a new CPR course geared specifically toward BLS prehospital providers.

Basic Life Support for Prehospital Providers BLS PHP, released in October 2014, combines flexibility and customization to meet department and agency needs.

A new American Heart Association CPR course geared specifically toward BLS prehospital providers includes both online and classroom components, and uses realistic training scenarios. (Image American Heart Association)
A new American Heart Association CPR course geared specifically toward BLS prehospital providers includes both online and classroom components, and uses realistic training scenarios. (Image American Heart Association)

The course is based on the 2010 American Heart Association guidelines for CPR and ECC and will be updated when the 2015 guidelines are released in November.

Why the new course?

The American Heart Association heard from EMS providers that the previous BLS Health Care Provider course was missing essential and realistic CPR training. The new BLS for Prehospital Providers course focuses on first responders and uses realistic EMS team approaches to respond to cardiac arrests in the field.

Each state or local agency can also customize the course to ensure EMS professionals get the resuscitation training they need in a way that incorporates their individual protocols.

The target audience is all prehospital responders and emergency care professionals including paramedics, basic and advanced EMTs, police officers and fire fighters. The secondary target audience is athletic trainers.

The new course format

The BLS for Prehospital Providers course consists of both online and classroom components, and the new format stresses the importance of transition of care from BLS to ALS EMS providers.

For instance, an opening video scene for the online training shows a fire engine pulling out of the station to respond to a call, and first responders assessing a patient in a car. The actors depicted a realistic scene, and often had sweat on their faces while doing CPR on the side of the road.


The online portion is narrated and presents the cognitive information. Students must complete all the objectives in order to complete the online portion of the course, and cannot skip ahead.

The online course focuses on three core scenarios:

  • Cardiac arrest in a car
  • A child drowning in a family pool
  • Cardiac arrest in a home bathroom

Students must pass an online exam. To move on to the classroom portion students need to bring a certificate of completion from the online portion and a copy of questions for discussion from the online course.


Students then attend the in-classroom portion, led by an American Heart Association BLS Instructor. The classroom portion features instructor-led discussions, debriefing, coaching and support for hands-on skills. The classroom is blended with skills tests from the current health care provider course, along with discussions and a six-person team resuscitation.

The course focuses on a high-performance team approach, moving from two rescuers, to six suggested roles for responders, depending on personnel available. Teams with less than six may take on multiple roles.

Key roles include a compressor, a team member to handle compressions, a team member to handle the airway, another team member to defibrillate/AED, a team leader to delegate roles and make decisions and lastly a team member to administer an IV/IO/medication. The team approach is similar to an in-hospital resuscitation.

Couse materials

All materials exist in an online format. EMS agencies can purchase multiple quantities of online keys to access materials for their personnel, and schedule the classroom sessions with their in-house American Heart Association BLS CPR Instructor.

Students responsible for their own CPR education can purchase a course from an approved American Heart Association Training Center. Once registered with the training center, an instructor will send an online key to the student.

Current Basic Life Support Instructors have the option of buying a kit or purchasing supplies individually. Instructors will need to purchase one copy of the Basic Life Support (BLS) For Prehospital Providers Instructor Supplement with instructor CD, one Basic Life Support (BLS) For Prehospital Providers classroom DVD, and one online key. Instructors can buy materials at authorized distributors: Channing Bete, Laerdal, and World Point.

The American Heart Association’s BLS for Prehospital Provider is fun and interactive, and incorporates EMTs, medics, firefighters and police with real life scenarios.

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