Life support refers to the treatments and techniques performed in an emergency in order to support life after the failure of one or more vital organs. Healthcare providers and emergency medical technicians are generally certified to perform basic and advanced life support procedures; however, basic life support is sometimes provided at the scene of an emergency by family members or bystanders before emergency services arrive. In the case of cardiac injuries, cardiopulmonary resuscitation is initiated by bystanders or family members 25% of the time. Basic life support techniques, such as performing CPR on a victim of cardiac arrest, can double or even triple that patient’s chance of survival. Other types of basic life support include relief from choking (Heimlich maneuver), staunching of bleeding by direct compression and elevation above the heart (and if necessary, pressure on arterial pressure points and the use of a manufactured or improvised tourniquet, first aid, and the use of an automated external defibrillator. Basic life supports the purpose of basic life support (BLS) is to save lives in a variety of different situations that require immediate attention. These situations can include but are not limited to, cardiac arrest, stroke, drowning, choking, accidental injuries, violence, severe allergic reactions, burns, hypothermia, birth complications, drug overdose, and alcohol intoxication. The most common emergency that requires BLS is cerebral hypoxia, a shortage of oxygen to the brain due to heart or respiratory failure. A victim of cerebral hypoxia may die within 8–10 minutes without basic life support procedures. BLS is the lowest level of emergency care, followed by advanced life support and post-resuscitation critical care.
Advanced Life Support (ALS) is a set of life-saving protocols and skills that extend Basic Life Support to further support the circulation and provide an open airway and adequate ventilation (breathing).
Post-resuscitation care following a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) after cardiac arrest, the challenge is to institute measures that ensure a higher likelihood of neurologically intact survival. Regardless of the cause of the collapse, multiple organ systems may be affected secondary to post-cardiac arrest syndrome. Interventions required for post-ROSC care are bundled into a care regimen: prompt identification and treatment of the cause of cardiac arrest; and treatment of electrolyte abnormalities. It is also essential to establish definitive airway management to maintain normocapnic ventilation, prevent hyperoxia, and optimize hemodynamic management via judicious intravenous fluids and vasoactive drugs. Targeted temperature management after ROSC confers neuroprotection and leads to improved neurological outcomes. Glycaemic control of blood glucose levels at 6–10 mmol/L, adequate seizure management and measures to optimize neurological functions should be integrated into the care bundle. The interventions outlined can potentially lead to more patients being discharged from the hospital alive with good neurological function.