Pediatric Advanced Life Support

Heart Attacks: General information

The medical term for a heart attack is cardiac arrest – a condition where the heart has “arrested” or is no longer pumping and supplying blood the rest of the body. The lack of circulating blood in the body depletes the oxygen supply reaching the major organs and tissues in the body and can lead to multiple-organ failure and eventual death. This is why starting chest compressions immediately is so important to successful CPR.

In adults, the most common cause of a heart attack is a condition called Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). The coronary arteries are small blood vessels that supply the cardiac muscle with oxygenated blood. CAD is characterized by a build-up of plaque in those arteries; plaque being fatty deposits and inflammatory cells. Plaque build-up gradually destroys cell walls where they are deposited, which can lead to a bleed or rupture. This further compromises blood flow through the vessel and to the heart.

Hearts Attacks in Children

When children get heart attacks, it is rarely due to a condition affecting the coronary arteries. In children, heart attacks are commonly caused by a respiratory problem, specifically respiratory failure. This is why heart attacks are called “asphyxial arrest”. Asphyxia is condition where there is a severe depletion of oxygen supply to the body, which happens during respiratory failure. Without oxygen reaching the blood via the lungs, the blood circulating to the heart is severely low on oxygen – this causes severe cardiac dysfunction and arrest.

PALS Training

All health workers who specialize in pediatrics or work in a pediatric area are usually required to take Pediatric Advanced Life Support training. The PALS program we offer students at Grande Prairie First Aid follow the curriculum structure of the advanced CPR classes, only this time the focus is on the difference between adult and pediatric CPR – specifically on the management of (1) infants, (2) toddlers, and (3) older children.

While basics are still covered in PALS training, we still require all trainees to have previously taken CPR Level C (Basic Life Support for Health Care Providers) training and received certification for it. The CPR Level C credential has to be valid at the time of enrolling into the PALS course.

The PALS course is 14 hours long. It is completed over two consecutive days, with several sessions throughout. Students need to attend all sessions to be qualified for the PALS certification. After the training class is completed, students need to schedule a certification exam. The exam has two parts and students need to pass both before we can award them with a PALS credential.

Three years after the credential is awarded to a trainee, it expires. If you plan on renewing your credential, you need to take the PALS refresher program which is 6 to 8 hours long. You don’t need to take the long, 14-hour PALS program.

Sign up for advanced pediatric CPR training by using the available form below. You can reach us via e-mail or telephone call – or even visit us in person!