Restaurants, office buildings or other public areas, all have the potential of becoming the site of a medical emergency, and knowing what to do on the spot is crucial. During a cardiac arrest, every minute that goes by without some type of emergency treatment lessens the chance of that patient surviving the attack without any permanent damage. In extreme circumstances, a lack of attention in those first few minutes could mean the difference between life and death. The main focus of Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) training is to make licensed medical professionals more aware of the timeline of a cardiac arrest and how to work to restore blood flow to the heart and brain as soon as possible. Gaining a certification can be an important addition to a professional skill set, and greatly increases an employee's value on the job.
Most people are already familiar with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), but ACLS takes these skills one step further to include functions like intubation, starting intravenous drips, reading Electrocardiograms (ECG) and defibrillation. Courses in ACLS teach the importance of recognizing regular and irregular heart rhythms, and putting participants in a position to recognize an arrhythmia before it can progress in to full-blown cardiac arrest. Most classes are geared towards working professionals, offering a choice of online-based programs that teach theory, or an in person course that comes with the advantage of live skills practice sessions. Both types do not require the completion of a Basic Life Saving (BLS) course as a prerequisite, although it is highly recommended.
Choosing the right ACLS certification course means making sure that the latest guidelines have been implemented. Recent developments involving procedures, as well as pharmaceuticals, have changed the way ACLS classes are conducted. One of the most noteworthy changes is the end of the classic ABC sequence. The class now promotes chest compressions as the first step to cardiac incidents that happen outside of a hospital setting. Also, drugs like Atropine are no longer part of ACLS protocols during cardiac arrest. Changes like these make an up-to-date certification course a must for any health professional.
After completion of the course, an exam will be administered to verify the participant's knowledge of ACLS, and some programs offer up to three retakes before requiring that the course be repeated in full. After passing the exam, keep in mind that it is not a lifetime certification, and has to be renewed every two years. Certifications are also only valid in the United States, so health professionals with jobs that take them out of the country should check on local requirements.