Janet’s Law requires New Jersey public and non-public schools to be equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED) to save lives. The law requires schools to establish action plans for emergencies. The goal of the legislation is to achieve quicker response times during Sudden Cardiac Arrest emergencies through training school coaches and personnel on how to use an AED.
Janet’s Law was created in memory of 11-year-old Janet Zilinski, who tragically died during cheerleading practice in 2006. Janet’s Law requires that at least five school faculty members successfully complete and attain American Heart Association CPR/AED certification. All New Jersey schools are required to have a properly installed AED as of September 1, 2014.
School owners, administrators, and staff members should understand the law and what it entails.
History of Janet’s Law
Janet’s Law memorializes Janet Zilinski, a Warren Township, New Jersey cheerleader who was just 11 years old when she died after a Sudden Cardiac Arrest during cheerleading practice in August 2006.
Janet collapsed while jogging. She was treated at the scene by a pediatric trauma nurse who administered CPR, but tragically, an AED was unavailable onsite. Janet managed to stay conscious until she reached the hospital, where doctors stabilized her for a time.
Sadly, she eventually suffered another cardiac arrest and passed away. Janet showed no signs of a heart condition before her death, which can be typical of those who suffer cardiac arrest.
After her death, her family started The Janet Fund to raise awareness about Sudden Cardiac Arrest in children. The organization is dedicated to preventing sudden cardiac death in New Jersey’s youth through awareness, legislation, AED placement and training. Their mission is to make Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) available in every school in New Jersey and make them commonplace on playing fields. Janet’s parents, Karen and Jim Zilinksi, lobbied for six years to have Janet’s Law passed with the hopes of preventing additional student deaths in New Jersey due to cardiac arrest. The Janet Fund remains passionate about making AEDs mandatory in schools and youth sports.
Since the passing of the law, over 4,000 people have received CPR training, more than 400 AEDs have been installed in schools, and 22 students’ lives have been saved in New Jersey! With schools across the state adopting these practices, the law will undoubtedly contribute to saving even more precious young lives.
Young Lives Saved at School - SCA Survivor Stories
Automated External Defibrillators (AED) placed on school campuses have saved thousands of lives from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Research has proven that SCA survival rates can be as high as 70%, which is 7x higher than the national average, on school campuses that have AEDs. These “saves” have included people of all ages and at all times of the day, whether it’s during school hours, after school, or even at non-school-sponsored activities hosted on campus.
One such story is of a basketball player named Chibuzo Ikonte, who suffered a SCA during practice at Valencia High School in Santa Clarita, California in 2013. Luckily, the school had an AED, and players who were trained and certified in CPR and AED use, who took immediate action and saved Chibuzo’s life.
Similarly, 18-year-old Taevone Johnson suffered a SCA during football training at Page High School in Greensboro, North Carolina. Because the school’s athletic trainer had CPR training, access to an AED on campus, and took immediate action, the young athlete survived.
Schools throughout New Jersey and the country are adopting new practices to continue saving lives. For example, the New Jersey Atlantic Health System has successfully donated over 25 AEDs to schools and the community. Carolinas Healthcare System Blue Ridge in North Carolina also gave away ten defibrillators to McDowell County Public Schools.
Janet’s Law Requirements for Schools in New Jersey
Janet’s Law was first passed on September 1, 2014. It required that every K-12 school in New Jersey, both public and private, establish an emergency action plan for quick response to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
Here is some deeper insight into what the action plan must address:
- The person(s) accountable for procuring the AED during an emergency
- The person(s) responsible for dialing 911 during an emergency
- The person(s) responsible for delivering CPR
- The person(s) accountable for using the defibrillator
- The person(s) responsible for helping emergency services experts following the event
Janet’s Law requires that an AED must be:
- present on public and private school (K-12) campuses
- within a reasonable distance to the athletic field or gym
- accessible in an unlocked location with an easy-to-read sign
- available during schooling hours
- available every time a school-sponsored athletic event or practice takes place
In addition, New Jersey schools must have at least five school employees certified in CPR/AED and ensure that a staff member, trainer, coach, EMT, or first responder trained in CPR/AED is available during athletic practices.
Janet’s Law has made New Jersey schools safer, and is a step in the right direction toward protecting young students and athletes. Partnerships with local sponsors including nonprofits, health organizations, or the Janet Fund can help schools offset the cost of this critical investment.
Here are Some Other Stories about AEDs in Schools: