By nearly a unanimous decision, the New Jersey state legislature passed Janet’s Law, a law governing that schools have life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in accessible locations for sports events. Named after 11 year old Janet Zilinski who suffered a fatal sudden cardiac arrest during cheerleading practice in 2006, the law is focused around protecting our children from cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating effectively enough to circulate blood. Specifically, it’s an electrical problem arising when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the heart can no long pump blood to the brain and other vital organs. It can occur with almost no warning.
While it may seem that only people who are obese, smoke, or engage in other unhealthy habits are susceptible for sudden cardiac arrest, it is the leading cause of death in exercising young athletes. In fact, experts estimate sudden cardiac arrest happens every 3 days in the U.S.
With Janet’s law in place the rate of sudden cardiac arrest can be curbed immensely. Not only requiring accessible AEDs, but it also necessitates that certain personnel be taught recitative breathing techniques and AED use. Most importantly, each school must have an action plan developed in case of a sudden cardiac crisis.
Once Gov. Chris Christie officially signs the bill into law, over 64% of young athletes and others, who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest occurring in a high school may now have a much greater chance of survival as stated on the Janet Zilinski Memorial Fund website.