The immediate life support course (ILS) was launched by the Resuscitation Council (UK) in January 2002. This multi-professional 1-day resuscitation course teaches the essential knowledge and skills required to manage a patient in cardiac arrest for the short time before the arrival of a cardiac arrest team or other experienced medical assistance. The ILS course also introduces healthcare professionals to the role of a cardiac arrest team member. The course provides the candidate with the knowledge and skills to recognise and treat the acutely ill patient before cardiac arrest, to manage the airway with basic techniques, and to provide rapid, safe defibrillation using either manual or automated external defibrillators (AEDs). The course includes lectures, skill stations and cardiac arrest scenarios. The ILS course has standardised much of the life support training that already takes place in UK hospitals. In 2002, 16 547 candidates attended ILS courses in 128 course centres. In this article, we discuss the rationale for, and the development and structure of the ILS course. We also present the first year's results and discuss possible future developments. It is hoped that this course may become established in counties in continental Europe through the European Resuscitation Council.
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