CHATHAM, NJ - Two new laws passed this year will require CPR training as part of the curriculum for all high school seniors as well as preparedness for a cardiac emergency.
Dave and JoAnne Babbitt did their part to help the laws become a reality through their John Taylor Babbitt Foundation, along with Chatham High School students Erin Healy and Elise Corasaniti, who both testified before the committee in Trenton in favor of the law.
"Dave and I are so pleased that New Jersey has now joined the other 18 states requiring CPR/AED training in our high schools," JoAnne Babbitt said. "The Lt Governor (Kim Guadagno) recognized the powerful impact of our students testimony before the state senate and assembly. Their testimony was crucial in convincing our legislators that this bill should be passed."
The bill passed 39-1 in the senate and 77-0 in the assembly. The Babbitt's JTB Foundation, named after their son who died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition, helped push for the legislation along with the American Heart Association.
According to the AHA, a victim’s chance of survival can double or triple if a bystander immediately provides CPR effectively. However, only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims are able to receive CPR from a CPR-educated bystander.
Corasaniti is the president of the John Taylor Babbitt Heart Club at Chatham High School.
"There has been, unfortunately, multiple deaths in Chatham in the last few years due to sudden cardiac arrest, two of whom were very good friends with my two older siblings," Corasaniti said. "Chatham has become a much more heart safe town after these tragic incidents. However, without knowledge of how to use the multiple AEDs around town, many would not know what to do in a time of emergency. This includes myself as well, without my lifeguard training and certification, I would not know CPR or what to do if one went into cardiac arrest. The health class curriculum at my school does not focus on CPR."
New State Laws Require Graduating High School Students to Learn CPR
The new state laws that go into effect this fall will have an immediate effect on New Jersey students, teachers and administrators. These laws require New Jersey school districts and students to be more prepared for potential cardiac emergencies, such as heart attacks. The American Red Cross is offering school districts a series of trainings, action plans and access to automatic external defibrillators (AED) to help them comply with the new laws.
Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region, noted that about 2,000 Americans under the age of 25 die of sudden cardiac arrest each year, according to a 2012 study in the journal Pediatrics. The American Red Cross believes that two these laws can help avoid unnecessary deaths in our schools and ensure that our high school students have the necessary training to help fellow citizens suffering from a cardiac emergency until trained medical help arrives. Both laws take effect on September 1, 2014.
Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno signed the bill on August 20, 2014. The bill, sponsored by Senators Diane Allen (Cinnaminson) and Joseph Vitale (Woodbridge) and Assemblymen Angel Fuentes (Audubon) and Patrick Diegnan Jr. (South Plainfield), was passed with broad bipartisan support.
People who want to find a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class can go to redcross.organd visit the “Take A Class” page. Group training can be scheduled by filling out the request form on www.redcross.org/JanetsLaw.
The Implementation of Janet’s Law
Janet’s Law seeks to better prepare schools in case of a sudden cardiac emergency. The law was enacted to commemorate Janet Zilinski, an 11-year-old cheerleader from Warren, N.J. who died in 2006 after suffering sudden cardiac arrest at her school. Janet’s Law requires all school districts (public and private) have:
- An AED (an automatic external defibrillators) on site
- At least five school employees certified in CPR/AED
- An emergency action plan for a sudden cardiac event
- The AED located in an accessible, unlocked location (such as outside the school gym) with appropriate signage above the unit
- Signs throughout the school directing people to the AED
- EMTs or other first responders at all practices or events if trained school employees are not available.
Although signed into law in 2012, schools did not need to be in compliance untilSeptember 1, 2014. The Red Cross in New Jersey has been working with school districts to offer them a “one-stop solution,” that includes specific training in CPR and AED usage for coaches, instructors and administrators; emergency action plans that can be adapted for local needs; and access to AEDs. For more information, visit RedCross.org/JanetsLaw.