ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support)

ECG Basics
EGC Intermediate
ECG practice
12 lead ECG Intro.
EMT Practice Exams
PEPP Presentations
Lung Sounds

Course Overview

The ACLS provider course is designed for healthcare providers who either direct efforts as the team leader, or participate as a team member for cardiac arrest or peri-arrest situations.

These providers come from varied backgrounds, including but not limited to, in-hospital providers (Physicians, NP, RN, RT, etc), pre-hospital (EMS) or community health care staff.

The 2 day ACLS course will help to reinforce concepts from the pre course materials including:

  • Identification and treatment of conditions that place the patient at risk for cardiac arrest.
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) primary survey.
  • ACLS secondary survey.
  • ACLS algorithm interventions.
  • Effective team dynamics.

The goal of ACLS is to use evidence based interventions to improve the quality of care provided to victims of cardiac arrest and

peri-arrest situations.


The actual course is two days, however, the material are delivered a minimum of one month prior to the program for self study.   PLEASE do your self a favor and save a couple of hours, minimum, every night for reading! 


Course Objectives
  • Recognize and initiate early management of peri-arrest conditions that may result in cardiac arrest, or complicate resuscitation outcome.

  • Demonstrate proficiency in providing BLS care, including prioritizing chest compressions (CPR) and integrating AED use.

  • Manage cardiac arrest until return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), transfer of care, or termination of resuscitation efforts.

  • Identify and treat ischemic chest pain and expedite the treatment of acute coronary syndromes (ACS).

  • Recognize other life threatening clinical situations, such as stroke and provide effective initial care and transfer to reduce disability and death.

  • Demonstrate effective communication as a member or leader of a resuscitation team and recognize the impact of team dynamics on over all performance. 


Critical Concepts prior to ACLS provider course


The following will be crucial to successful completion of the ACLS program

  • BLS Skills (CPR).

    • Strong BLS skills are the cornerstone of ACLS. 


    • During the ACLS course a CPR "competency" test is held, if you are not successful in this exam you may not be allowed to continue with the program.



      • The AHA does not recognize any other organizations CPR certification. 

      • Without AHA BLS certification, you will not be allowed to participate in the ACLS course.


  • Management of Respiratory Arrest / Airway Management.

    • Management of rescue ventilations, proper ventilation of the ACLS patient and knowledge of when to utilize advanced airway tools.


  • ECG Rhythm interpretation


    If you can not interpret what rhythm the Patient is in, how can you treat them?



    • In the textbook ECG recognition is not highly emphasized as an essential component. It is understood that ECG recognition is integral part of the ACLS program, and you should be able to interpret the rhythms listed below. 

The 2005 ACLS Student CD has a ECG interpretation module included.  It can be found on pages 30 - 49 of the 2005 supplementary information module.

Pre 2010 Student Supplementary Module

If you are not comfortable with ECG interpretation, please visit the ECG interpretation page and review the booklet.  There is also a PowerPoint presentation.


There are also several excellent text books available.


 I have used each of the textbooks below in ECG training classes, and have had excellent success in helping Candidates with ECG interpretation. (these titles are links to Amazon for viewing, but this is not the only place to acquire these texts).




ACLS Pharmacology

  • There is a wide range of Candidate knowledge in the area of Pharmacology.  As backgrounds are also varied, this is to be expected.   However, just knowing that "EPI" (epinephrine) is in a protocol, or amiodarone may be required is not enough. 


    You should know the following of every drug you plan to give:

    • Indications

    • Contraindications

    • Route of Administration

    • Repeat times

    • Concentrations

    • Does the agent require mixing or reconstitution

    • Dosages- as medication doses change, it is a good idea to a reference card handy. 


    Cardiac arrest and peri-arrest situations are stressful, if you are not prepared and knowledgeable with these agents there is a high likelihood that a mediation error may be made.  While this will give your colleagues a great opportunity for "Constructive Intervention", it is not be the best place to find out you were weaker than you though in ACLS Pharmacology.


  • Effective Resuscitation Team Concepts

    • During the course you will be expected to be the  "Team Leader".  Get out there, volunteer to go first and get your "Team Leader" role out of the way.


    • Being put on the spot in front of Colleagues is difficult, but everyone has stress in group work.  Analyze your feelings and actions, use it to understand a bit more about yourself and how you deal with awkward and challenging situations. 


    •  It is important to remember that in any cardiac arrest case, it is the Team Members role to assist the Team Leader to  the best of  their ability, while remaining within their own scope of practice


      ACLS training is NOT certification for skills that are outside a Practitioners Scope. 


      If you were not allowed, under scope of practice to use manual defibrillation or administer drugs before ACLS, you will still be unable to manually defibrillate or administer drugs after ACLS, regardless of the ACLS training.


  • ACLS Algorithms

    • 2010 guideline course materials available shortly

    • These are provided in the textbook as well as the pocket book when you receive your course materials.


2010 ACLS Comparison Chart