PALS Online - An Online Course in Pediatric Advanced Life Support


Anyone who has been in healthcare for any length of time knows one undeniable truth. Everything seems to matter more when the patient is a child. Now that's not to say adults and the elderly are not very important, but there is a unique urgency amongst care providers when assessing and treating a child. Ambulances drive a little faster, nurses flood the emergency room, and doctors find themselves at the bedside quicker than usual when a child's life is in danger.

However, with increased urgency comes increased stress. Increased stress leads to slip ups and possibly panic. Combine that with the fact that, unless a particular healthcare worker happens to work in a children's only hospital, adults far outweigh everyone's patient census count. It becomes glaringly apparent for the need of intense ongoing pediatric oriented training. This is why healthcare professionals turn to the training professionals at the American Heart Association (AHA).

Dealing with emergency situations involving children is not only tough physically and emotionally, but since many standardized treatments vary from that of adults these situations become mentally challenging as well. All children are not treated the same. Things such as vital signs, chest compressions, and medication doses will have vast differences between children depending on age and weight. The AHA is constantly researching and reviewing the latest and best treatments for pediatric patients. As a result they have developed a course for all healthcare providers that is seen as the gold standard for pediatric education: Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

What does the PALS online course teach?

This in-depth online course is considered so vital that many EMS agencies, hospitals, and clinics require their staff to re-certify in PALS every two years to remain employed. Those familiar with the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) course will feel right at home in PALS. The course is designed to properly educate healthcare providers how to assess and treat children of all ages who are at risk or have succumbed to pulmonary and/or cardiac arrest. At the beginning of both the ACLS and PALS courses a universal truth is stressed; the need for immediate and high quality CPR. This includes knowing the proper rate, hand placement or thumb placement, adequate depth of compression, respiratory rate, and head and body placement. Providers using manual defibrillators will review cardiac dysrhythmias and learn the appropriate energy settings for children depending on weight.

Lessons in proper airway management are as crucial as ever when assessing and treating pediatric patients. One of the leading causes of cardiac arrest in children is from pulmonary distress/arrest and airway obstruction. Techniques in clearing a child’s airway will be demonstrated such as finger swiping, back blows, and suctioning. Due to the proportionately larger heads of children, students are shown how to properly place a child’s head and shoulders to prevent tracheal obstruction. Methods for the measurements of oral pharyngeal, nasal pharyngeal and endotracheal tubes will be demonstrated. Providers with endotracheal intubation in their scope of practice will be required to successfully intubate manikins.

In addition, students of PALS online will review the proper medication dosages for children in cardiac arrest. Dosages of drugs such as epinephrine, atropine, sodium bicarbonate and amiodarone will change immensely from that of their adult counterparts. Students will be taught methods for evaluating weights of children based on age and size. Students will also receive handouts laying out normal vital signs and dosages for children based on age.

Skills covered in the PALS online certification course will include (if necessary to the scenario) CPR, cardiac monitoring and rhythm diagnosis, IV placement and drug therapy, and airway management. Finally, at the end of the course, students will be required to pass a written exam demonstrating competent knowledge on the assessment and treatment of critical pediatric patients.

Why take the PALS online certification?

If you are a healthcare provider who has any chance whatsoever of encountering a critical pediatric patient this course is an absolute must. The time to realize that you need the skills and knowledge provided from PALS is not when you are standing over a pulseless toddler with screaming parents and frantic partners. Certify yourself in PALS and be the provider that your patients and colleagues look to come through when it counts.

The PALS online program is designed to suit the fast-paced lifestyles of today's medical professionals. The PALS online course allows the student to complete initial certification and even recertification, without having to worry about taking time out of their schedules to attend a classroom based course.

Written by David Peck, EMT-P


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