Basic life support

Paediatric basic life support (BLS) is not simply a scaled-down version of that provided for adults. Although the general principles are the same, specific techniques are required if the optimum support is to be given. The exact techniques employed need to be varied according to the size of the child. A somewhat artificial line is generally drawn between infants (less than 1 year old) and small children (less than 8 years old), and this chapter follows that approach. The preponderance of hypoxic causes of paediatric cardiorespiratory arrest means that oxygen delivery rather than defibrillation is the critical step in children. This underlines the major differences with the adult algorithm.

By applying the basic techniques described, a single rescuer can support the vital respiratory and circulatory functions of a collapsed child with no equipment.

Basic life support is the foundation on which advanced life support is built. Therefore it is essential that all advanced life support providers are proficient at basic techniques, and that they are capable of ensuring that basic support is provided continuously and well during resuscitation.

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