Basic Life Support (BLS)

BLS courses and COVID-19

The RACGP undertakes an ongoing review of its delivery format and standards for BLS for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic following 
recommendations from both the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC). Any changes affecting the Fellowship and CPD requirements will be communicated to members. 

Details of the changes can be seen below.

  • BLS delivered by the RACGP will be in a mix of online and face to face, with the theoretical component made available in multiple formats to suit attendees individual requirements.
  • Education delivered by external providers can be done in a blended format as well as long as minimum standards of HLTAID001 are met and documentation can be provided.
  • Delivery of BLS training will not include breathing into a mannequin, rather beside the mannequin (all other standards for certification remain the same)
  • Class sizes will be limited (this will depend on individual state restrictions) and may even be done individually through a booking system
  • Appropriate social distancing methods will be adhered to
  • Gloves and hand sanitiser will be provided to all participants for use
  • A high standard of cleaning will be done prior to and after each session (including all training simulators and materials)
  • All staff and instructors have been given additional training in infection control.

GPs need to maintain their skill to perform BLS procedures

The intention of the BLS requirement is to ensure all Australian GPs maintain their skills and competency to perform BLS procedures on a patient or member of the community as and when it is needed.

The RACGP recognises that BLS skills are used infrequently, and thus may diminish.

Evidence suggests the most important determinant of survival from sudden cardiac arrest is the presence of a trained rescuer who is ready, willing, able and equipped to act.

Furthermore, basic life support skills are expected of healthcare providers as part of their duty to respond. The RACGP Standards for General Practice (4th edition) recommends ‘practices need to have the necessary equipment for comprehensive primary care and resuscitation’.

The RACGP Standards recommend undertaking a refresher in BLS competence every three years.

The Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) guidelines recommend that updates should be completed at least annually. In support of the RACGP standards and the latest evidence, it is a requirement of the CPD Program that GPs maintain basic life support skills through the completion of a BLS course that meets the ARC guidelines.

GPs have a duty to respond to sudden cardiac arrest and are expected to perform BLS procedures in accordance with current ARC guidelines and techniques, without the assistance of specialist emergency services or equipment if required to do so.

Criteria specific to BLS

  • GPs are required to complete a BLS course that meets the ARC guidelines
  • Courses must be a minimum of one hour
  • Courses can be either a CPD activity or form part of a CPD accredited activity
  • ALS courses must meet the RACGP CPD requirements
  • Training courses are required to assess BLS competence – learners must be able to physical demonstrate BLS on a mannequin on the floor upon completion of the course

GPs working in anaesthetics or emergency medicine need to supply current evidence of training in BLS or Advanced Life Support (ALS).

  • ALS meets the RACGP BLS requirements
  • Training courses are required to assess BLS competence. At the completion of the course learners must be able to physically demonstrate BLS on a mannequin on the floor.
  • GPs who cannot physically perform BLS will need to:
    • provide a medical certificate or declaration stating that the GP has a disability or medical condition that prevents the GP from physically being able to perform BLS
    • inform the RACGP in writing about measures undertaken within the GPs medical practice to ensure that the GP is prepared for a situation requiring BLS.

BLS trainer/GP educator requirements

BLS trainers must have been trained by an ARC representative member, which includes training delivered by:

  1. The following organisations:
    1. St John Ambulance Australia, College of Emergency Nursing Australasia, Australian Red Cross, Council of Ambulance Authorities, Surf Lifesaving Australia, Australian College of Nursing, Paramedics Australasia, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Heart Foundation, Australian Defence Force, Australian College of Critical Care Nurses and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand
    2. Instructors who deliver BLS training to GPs must hold a current and valid BLS trainer certificate that complies with the policies of the ARC and RTO standard HLTAID001. BLS courses delivered by instructors who do not hold a current valid trainers certificate will not be accepted
  2. Organisations that are Registered Training Organisation (RTO) credentialed to deliver and provide BLS
  3. Fellows of FACEM and ANZCA in rural Emergency Departments
  4. BLS should be provided under HLTAID009 unless the RTO provides satisfactory documentation of approved extensions to deliver HLTAID001

BLS and ALS requirements for candidates/registrars who are on the pathway

The BLS and ALS course content requirements for registrars are quite specific. For details on the types of courses that meet the ALS and BLS requirements for registrars see the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Advanced Life Support Courses Guidance Document available from our education services policies page.