Paramedic learning at ARU’s Advanced Life Support course

Manual handling ambulance  credited to SCAS

Last month James Rouse a newly qualified paramedic (NQP) from Southend completed a Resuscitation Council (UK) approved Advanced Life Support (ALS) course with the Anglia Ruskin University. Here, James looks at what an ALS course can do for you….

As a newly qualified paramedic, I rather naively thought I knew all I needed for advanced life support. Turns out our training just brushes the surface of what we need to know for true advanced life support.  

So, what is an ALS Course?

The ALS course, accredited by the Resuscitation Council, is a “standardised national course teaching evidence-based resuscitation guidelines and skills to healthcare professionals” (, 2017). In plain language, you are taught the ability to systematically assess and recognise deteriorating patients, and to implement effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as part of a multidisciplinary team when cardiac arrest occurs.

This comprises four weeks of pre-course independent study, using online modules, a multiple-choice questionnaire and a course manual. This culminates into a two-day face to face phase of continuous assessment with lectures, workshops, skill stations, and a final multiple-choice questionnaire and cardiac arrest simulation.

Is the ALS course for me?

The Resuscitation Council’s ALS course is for anyone holding or studying a “professional healthcare qualification” (, 2017). That means every paramedic and student ambulance Paramedic can apply for this. The council also hold intermediate life support courses for technicians, police and fire responders.

Aren’t paramedics already trained in ALS?

Many paramedics, including myself, would ask “why would I need to do this course? I’m already trained in ALS”. The answer is we are trained for pre-hospital ALS, that’s what we do, that’s what we are good at. But pre-hospital ALS isn’t the same. The Resuscitation Council teaches implementation of a structured systematic approach as part of a multidisciplinary team. If paramedics are serious about ALS and not just amateurs, then an ALS course benefits both themselves and their patients.

What I didn’t expect was the emphasis on the acutely ill and peri-arrest patient. Advanced life support isn’t just about the patient in cardiac arrest, it’s also about recognising and treating the deteriorating patient before the cardiac arrest phase. This includes blood gas analysis, advanced cardiac rhythm recognition and cardiac pacing.

Why should I complete an ALS course?

As paramedics, we are part of a multifaceted healthcare system that stretches from pre-hospital emergency services to post-discharge rehabilitation teams. As the paramedic profession continues to develop within the healthcare environment, we must expand our skills and relationships with other healthcare professionals. The ALS course emphasises this interdisciplinary relationship and holistic approach, because successful cardiac arrests cannot be managed by one person, it takes a team of professionals working cohesively for a patient to survive to discharge. The ALS course isn’t just for our benefit; it’s for the patient’s benefit too.   

Published 5th October, 2017

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