Paediatric Basic Life Support (BLS)

Cardiac Arrest in children often occurs for very different reasons to adults.

Primary Cardiac Arrest (i.e., when the heart stops first) is common in adults and is often related to disease processes such as cardiovascular disease.

Conversely, children tend to suffer Secondary Cardiac Arrest, where the heart stops as a result of other illness or injury, which is often respiratory in nature.


Rescuers who are familiar with adult BLS and have no specific knowledge of paediatric techniques should use the adult guidelines with paediatric modifications. However, healthcare workers who may be expected to respond to a paediatric cardiac arrest should be fully conversant with the specific guidelines in this section of the resource.

Basic Life Support (BLS) refers to maintaining the AIRWAY, BREATHING and CIRCULATION in a victim of cardiac arrest without the need for any equipment.

For the purposes of BLS:

  • An infant is a baby under one year of age
  • A child is aged between one and puberty.