Janet Zilinski, an 11-year-old from Warren, New Jersey collapsed and died due to sudden cardiac arrest in August, 2006. Today, a bill sponsored by Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, known as “Janet’s Law,” which requires New Jersey public and nonpublic schools to be equipped with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was unanimously approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill also requires schools to establish emergency action plans for responding to sudden cardiac events and training for school officials and coaches on how to operate an AED.

According to the website, www.parentheartwatch.org, Janet had just started cheering practice and had done some light stretching/warm-ups. The girls were jogging a lap around the football field when Janet told her friend that she was tired and was going to lay down.

She went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field by a pediatric trauma nurse. Janet’s heart stopped several times en route to the hospital. CPR was administered in the ambulance, and Janet was alive and conscious when we arrived at the ER. She spoke with her parents and was coherent and stable. They were told that she would be OK. A short time later, she went into cardiac arrest and could not be revived. She was 11 years old. Janet’s physical two months earlier had not detected any problems.

Bramnick says, “While it is impossible to predict when sudden cardiac arrest will occur, precautions can be taken to react quickly and save lives. Response time is critically important when a cardiac episode occurs. With proper training and access to an AED during an attack, we can prevent tragedies such as Janet’s. I appreciate Chairman Burzichelli posting this important bill in his committee.”

Under Bramnick’s bill, public school districts and nonpublic schools must ensure that an AED is made available in an unlocked location on school property beginning September 1, 2014. The AED must be accessible during the day and any time a school-sponsored athletic event or team practice is taking place. Also included in the approved legislation is the requirement that a team coach, athletic director or other designated staff member, who is present during an athletic event or team practice, be trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and certified in how to properly operate an AED.