Two new state laws go into effect this fall that will require New Jersey school districts and students to be more prepared for potential cardiac emergencies. Janet’s Law, which takes effect September 1, requires school districts to be prepared for cardiac emergencies that take place at schools and at school-sponsored athletic events. A second law signed on August 20, 2014 will require all students graduating from New Jersey high schools to have completed a CPR course.
According to the journal Pediatrics, 2,000 Americans under the age of 25 die each year because of a cardiac emergency. The tragic part is that many of these deaths could be prevented. Since Janet’s Law was signed in 2012, the American Red Cross in New Jersey has worked with school districts to offer them a series of trainings, action plans and access to AEDs. This includes:
The new law requiring graduating students to pass a CPR course by the Red Cross or other group applies to students who will graduate in the spring of 2018. People who want to find a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class can visit our state chapter’s “Take A Class” page. Group training for schools can be scheduled by filling out the request form on www.redcross.org/JanetsLaw.
The History and Details Behind the New Laws
Janet’s Law was inspired by a tragedy in Warren, N.J. and seeks to better prepare schools in case of a sudden cardiac emergency. The law was enacted to commemorate Janet Zilinski, an 11 year old cheerleader who died in 2006 after suffering sudden cardiac arrest at her school. The school didn’t have an automatic external defibrillator (AED), a device that restores a normal heart rhythm, nor was there anyone who knew how to perform CPR.
Under Janet’s Law, every New Jersey school (public and private) will be required to have an AED on site, in a clearly marked place near the gym or an athletic field with staff members, such as a coach or trainer, certified on how to use it. As an alternative, a certified EMT or first responder must be present at all practices or events. In addition, the schools must have at least five staff members certified in CPR and a detailed action plan in case a student or staff member has a cardiac emergency.
Governor Chris Christie signed a separate bill in August that requires all graduating high school students to pass a course in CPR. New Jersey is the third state to implement such a law, joining Illinois and Oklahoma. Regulations implementing the law, which received broad bipartisan support, are still being written by the state Department of Education. The Red Cross is working with the state to ensure the regulations can be implemented in the simplest manner possible.