N.J. Bill Requiring Defibrillators at Youth Athletic Events Clears Assembly Panel

TRENTON, NJ--Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Wayne DeAngelo, Nancy Pinkin and Annette Quijano requiring defibrillators at youth sporting events was released Monday by an Assembly panel. 

"The story has become all too familiar. A seemingly healthy young person playing a sport suddenly collapses on the field from an undiagnosed heart condition and never gets back up," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of student athletes. A properly administered defibrillator can boost a victim's survival rate by 60 percent or more. This is more than enough reason to have a defibrillator available at youth sporting events."

"Too often a heart condition will reveal itself on the playing field without warning" said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Surviving sudden cardiac arrest will often depend on the availability of a defibrillator or having someone at the scene who knows CPR. It makes sense to not only have a defibrillator readily available, but an adult trained in CPR in case of an emergency."

"A quick response to a medical emergency can make the difference between life and death," said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). "In the case of sudden cardiac arrest, a victim can die within minutes if not treated. I realize this will be an expense for these organizations, but given the odds of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest without medical intervention, surely this is an expense worth making." 

"In any emergency situation, time is of the essence," said Quijano (D-Union). "According to the American Red Cross, every minute defibrillation is delayed, a victim's chance of survival decreases by about ten percent. Having a defibrillator at these events can help provide immediate medical care for a victim while emergency response personnel make their way to the scene."

Beginning on September 1, 2015, the bill (A-3500) requires municipal or county recreation departments and nonprofit youth organizations (such as, Little Leagues, Babe Ruth Leagues, Pop Warner Leagues, Police Athletic Leagues, and youth soccer leagues), which organize, sponsor, or are otherwise affiliated with youth athletic events that are played on municipal, county, school, or other publicly-owned fields, to ensure that there is an AED available on site at each youth athletic event and practice held on the department's or organization's home field. 

The department or organization must designate one or more umpires, coaches or licensed athletic trainers who will be present at the athletic event or practice, to be responsible for ensuring that the AED is available on site. The designated umpire, coach or athletic trainer is required to be trained in CPR and the use of an AED in accordance with law.

Also, beginning September 1, 2015, a youth camp is required to ensure there is an AED available on site. The youth camp operator must ensure that access to an automated external defibrillator is available to the majority of the camp population within the timeframe recommended by authoritative sources including, but not limited to, the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or the American Academy of Pediatrics, based on the population served and the activities conducted at the youth camp. This requirement would not apply to camp trips, travel camps, or other off-site programs of the youth camp. The youth camp must designate one or more counselors, licensed athletic trainers or other staff members to be trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and the use of the defibrillator in accordance with law.

A recreation department, youth organization, or youth camp will be deemed to be in compliance with the AED requirement if a state-certified emergency services provider or other certified first responder is on site at the athletic event or practice and has an AED available for use on site. A recreation department, youth serving organization, youth camp and its employees and volunteer would be immune from civil liability in the acquisition and use of an AED.

The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee. 

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