Advanced Cardiac Life Support, which is more commonly known by its acronym ACLS, involves a set of clinical systems employed by health care providers in emergency medical situations such as strokes or cardiac arrest to save the patient’s life. By taking an ACLS training course, a health care professional is being prepared to correctly read and interpret electrocardiograms, and manage the patient’s airway to avoid further health complications.
Unlike a first aid training course which focuses on the Basic Life Support or BLS methods such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), an ACLS training is highly recommended for qualified health care professionals such as nurses, paramedics, advanced emergency medical technicians and physicians. It encompasses the successful recognition and diagnosis of cardiac and coronary diseases, knowledge of specific ACLS drugs and their application in traumatic and life-threatening situations with the aim of successful recovery and resuscitation of the patient, unlike BLS which is more concerned with keeping the patient alive till the arrival of a trained health personnel.
While ACLS knowledge and training is highly useful for everyone, it should not be practiced without vigorous training and hence is best suited to healthcare professionals who primarily work in emergency rooms or intensive care units or in similar emergency settings. For residents of USA, an ACLS course must be approved by AHA (American Heart Association) and usually has two components: a written test and a practical skills-based test. It is also important that you take it from a licensed training center. Although online certificate courses are available, contacting the local hospital for an AHA-approved course is always the best option.
In conclusion, an ACLS training course is best suited for medical professionals who are frequently exposed to deadly emergency situations. Those without any prior medical background and are interested in ACLS, may consider easier options such as a BLS course or even a two day PALS course to add to their medical knowledge.