Gov. Chris Christie on Sept. 21 signed “Janet’s Law,” a bill requiring all public and nonpublic schools to have automated external defibrillators on site. The law is named in memory of Janet Zilinski, an 11-year-old resident from Warren Township, who died of sudden cardiac arrest following cheerleading practice.
Beginning Sept. 1, 2014, schools are required to have a defibrillator in an unlocked location. The defibrillator must be accessible during the school day or during school-sponsored athletic events or team practices and be located within reasonable proximity to the school gym or athletic field.
Plan Required The new law (A1608) also requires schools to establish emergency action plans to respond to sudden cardiac events. The school's plan must contain a list of at least five school employees, coaches or athletic trainers who have certifications in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator from either the American Red Cross, American Heart Association or other training program recognized by the state Department of Health. In addition, the plan must identify the school official responsible for responding to the person experiencing the sudden cardiac event, calling 911, starting cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, retrieving and using the defibrillator, and assisting emergency responders.
The State Board of Education will work with state health officials to adopt regulations to implement the provisions of the new law.
Cost Estimates The Office of Legislative Services said in a fiscal estimate that it could not determine the cost to school districts because it was unclear how many schools would be required to purchase a defibrillator, and it was unclear about the cost of training school staff. However, the Office of Legislative Services noted that under the state contract, which was set to expire in July, a school district could purchase a defibrillator for $829 per unit, and training for $58 per person. The office also noted that the American Red Cross offers such training courses at approximately $70 per person, and their certification is valid for two years.