CLARK, NJ – Well ahead of the law’s Class of 2018 requirement, the Arthur L. Johnson High School has taken steps toward implementing “Janet’s Law.” The law, passed in August, 2014, requires all high school students to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and know how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) prior to graduation.

Clark Public Schools have incorporated the law’s requirements into its implementation of the Core Curriculum Content Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. The instruction must be certified by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross or another “nationally recognized” group.

When ALJ students enter eleventh grade they participate in Junior Health and learn first aid as well as adult, child and infant CPR training.

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“We have already had coaches certified in CPR. We took action already with the implementation of AED’s. We are ahead of the times,” ALJ physical education and Junior Health teacher Jamie Wronski said. “I think it is a good thing to have more teachers certified in CPR training. Honestly, the more the better.”

Ron Weslosky, president of the Clark Volunteer Emergency Squad, agreed. He has used CPR 40 times in his 14 year career as an Emergency Medical Technician.

“I think it’s a great idea. I mean, you really never know when you are going to be confronted with a situation in which you are going to utilize CPR as well as an AED. I think having legislation there to mandate CPR training can only improve survival rates,” Weslosky said.

“CPR is most effective when given as soon as possible. The most important thing is early access to an AED and calling emergency medical personnel. The earlier you can deliver a shock, the higher the survival rate,” he said.

A cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival decreases as each minute passes with no action being taken. After five minutes, the individual has a fifty percent chance of surviving.

At ALJ, AEDs are strategically placed throughout the school to make sure that if a student, teacher, or visitor does goes into cardiac arrest there is opportunity for rapid intervention.

William Tansey III, a spokesman for the American Heart Association in New Jersey, said in a press release that “New Jersey will be creating a generation of lifesavers.”  

The law is named after Janet Zilinski, an eleven year old cheerleader from Warren, NJ who died in 2006 after going into cardiac arrest at cheerleading practice.

Editor's Note: Maryann Makosiej is a student at Arthur L. Johnson High School and a member of the TAP team at ALJ.