Janet's Law Signed Into Law: Requires AEDs in N.J. Schools

WARREN TWP. – Janet’s Law, named for the Warren Township cheerleader, Janet Zilinski, 11, who died in August 2006 at cheerleader practice from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), was signed into law on Friday, Sept. 21, by Gov. Chris Christie.

The legislation was sponsored by Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Somerset-Morris and Somerset, whose 21st Legislative District includes Warren Township, Watchung and Long Hill Township.

“Janet’s Law” requires New Jersey public and nonpublic schools to be equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED). The new law requires schools to establish emergency action plans for responding to sudden cardiac events and training for school officials and coaches on how to operate an AED.

Janet Zilinski’s parents, Karen and Jim Zilinski, and the foundation they founded, the Janet Zilinski Memorial Fund, have worked for the past six years to see to it that AEDs are as omnipresent as fire extinguishers, particularly where children are likely to congregate.

They believe that AEDs should be everywhere and readily accessible at schools, libraries, school and municipal athletic fields and playgrounds, and that staff at those facilities, coaches and parents should be trained in the use of the AEDs.

AEDs come equipped with computer-generated voice instructions on the easy step-by-step way to use the AED. Gradually, training in the use of AEDs is becoming incorporated into the standard CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training programs, a move advocated by the Zilinskis and the Janet Zilinski Memorial Foundation.

The legislation, which started as Bill A-1608 in the Assembly, and was matched with a companion bill in the state Senate and was supported by fellow District 21 legislator, Republican Minority Leader Sen. Tom Kean, was unanimously approved by both houses of the Legislature earlier this year.

“Saving lives is the most important goal of Janet’s Law,” said Bramnick. “All schools will now have a defibrillator available and an emergency plan in place which will help avoid the tragedy which the Zilinski family experienced. I appreciate the unanimous support this bill received in the Legislature and I thank Governor Christie for signing it into law.”

The Zilinskis, the Janet Zilinski Memorial Foundation, and a groundswell of local volunteers in Warren, Watchung and Long Hill, have supported efforts to raise awareness about SCA, and the critical importance of the use of AEDs as soon as possible in SCA cases. Statistically, there is a significantly higher rate of saving the life of a SCA victim if an AED is used as soon as possible. It is statistically higher, even when compared to the high life-saving rate for the use of CPR. Using CPR and the AED in the moments before trained emergency response personnel arrive, is the best chance of saving a life, according to statistics.

In the six years since Janet Zilinski’s death, the Zilinski family and the Janet Zilinski Memorial Fund has donated, or arranged for the donation,  scores of AEDs for schools, libraries and athletic fields and/or sports leagues in Warren, Watchung and Long Hill.

AEDs are now part of the standard first aid equipment in most if not all police cars, which often are the first emergency vehicle to arrive at a 911 call.

Organizations supporting the Janet’s Law include: NJ School Boards Association, NJ Association of School Administrators, NJ Principal and Supervisors Association, Garden State Coalition of Schools, NJ Education Association, The Janet Fund, NJ Recreation and Park Association, the Athletic Trainers’ Society of NJ, the American Red Cross, and the American Heart Association.

SOURCE: New Jersey Hills


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