TRENTON – The Senate Education Committee unanimously released a bill that would require all public and non public schools to have automated external defibrilators available.
Janet’s Law, named after Janet Ziliniski, an 11-year-old girl from Warren Township, Somerset County, who died of sudden cardiac arrest following cheerleading practice in July 2006, was approved to require the AEDs be set up in every school. The law came up for review by the committee to require the AEDs be made available for school-sponsored activities.
Previously, sports groups using the fields at a school, but had no connection to the school, were also required to have it. That requirement is narrowed to just school-sponsored activities.
Sen. Robert Singer (R-30), of Jackson , prime sponsor of the bill, S157, described it as “an inexpensive way to save lives.” A Defibrilator generally costs about $814. However, many civic groups, like Kiwanis and Rotary, have donated the devices to schools, he said.
The bill requires districts to have an AED within two years of its enactment. Presently, only about one-third of districts actually have Defibrilators.
The American Heart Association and Athletic Trainers Association supported the bill.
A representative from AHA stated that a person’s chances of surviving sudden cardiac arrest slip 7 to 10 percent for every minute he or she goes by untreated.
An estimated 294,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest each year.
Karen Zilinski, Janet’s mother, testified that she learned after her daughter’s passing that children’s physicals don’t detect heart defects. She added that since the passage of the law, five people were saved because AEDs were available on school grounds.
Janet’s father, Jim, testified before the committee, full of emotion, telling the members, “Sometimes it has to be about the greater good of society… We would give any amount to have Janet back.”