WARREN, NJ – Two Watchung Hills students who helped to save a classmate's life were recognized at the last meeting of the Watchung Hills Board of Education on Tuesday.
WHRHS student Sarah Magaldo passed out while on one of the events on the Project Adventure course on the morning of January 19. Two students who had just completed EMT training, Andrew Zimmer and Emma Reedman, and Project Adventure teacher Thomas Loeffler started CPR until the AED arrived and could be administered.
"The school resource officer Joe Casorio along with Mrs. Valerio and Mrs. Clark, the school nurses, were on the scene to assist until the ambulance arrived to take Sarah to Overlook Hospital. It was made clear by the doctors at Overlook that the actions of Andrew, Emma and Mr. Loeffler, Officer Casorio, Nurses Valerio and Clark had saved Sarah’s life. She is here," said WHRHS Board of Education president Bob Morrison.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating. It is fatal if not treated within a few minutes.Victims of SCA often appear healthy, and the situation usually happens with little or no warning, according to information from The Janet Fund.
If a SCA victim is defibrillated within the first minute of sudden cardiac arrest, chances of survival are close to 90 percent. Every minute of delay in defibrillation reduces chances of survival.
WHRHS Vice Principal Terry MacConnell was "eight feet away."
Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett said, "There are a tremendous amount of people I have the honor of acknowledging and thanking this evening, including our two guests of honor, seniors students Emma Reedman and Andrew Zimmer.
It is difficult to find the words to express my and the board’s gratitude to all of you who assisted in responding to this emergency incident. I would like to acknowledge that student - Sarah Magaldo - and her family who are here with us tonight and we could not be happier that you have your health and a long life to look forward to. I apologize in advance as I am sure there are many people I won’t list by name who also helped in some capacity during the Jan 19 emergency. We would like to thank the members of the Warren Police Department - including our School Resource Officer Joe Casorio, Sergeant Rob Ferreiro, Officer Robert Apisa, and Officer Kevin Olah, Atlantic Ambulance EMS-8 and Mercy 6 Paramedics, and a number of our staff members who will be recognized in front of their peers at tomorrow's faculty meeting also assisted on the scene, including security personnel Joseph Caiati, Director of Security Chris Shea and Nurse Mary Beth Clark. Additionally, our physical education teacher Mr. Thomas Loeffler immediately assessed the situation, provided direction to his students, and summoned medical assistance and Nurse Angela Valerio took over administration of CPR to the student and attended to the student until the arrival of additional medical personnel."
The Magaldos expressed their thanks.
This is a particularly happy ending to a story that has a very significant and meaningful background to it.
On August 10, 2006 11-year-old Janet Zilinski, a resident of Warren, suddenly passed away due to sudden cardiac arrest following cheerleading practice.
"Out of their unimaginable grief, Janet’s parent Karen and Jim, who are with us this evening, were committed to seeing that all schools and youth facilities were outfitted with the proper equipment and training that would keep another family from having to suffer this type of incredible loss, Morrison said.
Jim Zilinski addressed the board.
Assemblyman Bramnick led the charge by introducing and ushering a bill through the state legislature that took more than six years, which was signed by Governor Christie on Sept 21, 2012 creating Janet’s Law. Janet’s law requires all public and non-public schools to have automated external defibrillators and calls for schools to establish emergency action plans to respond to sudden cardiac events, in order to be as prepared as possible to deal with life-threatening emergencies.
The law went into effect for the 2014-2015 school year.
“We were successful and 16 lives have been saved since the law was passed,” said Bramnick (R-Union) whose 21st Legislative District includes Warren Township. “The quick thinking of those students saved yet another life. I want to thank the Zilinski family for their tireless efforts in passing a law that has saved lives. I’m proud to have worked with them.”
Two years ago the Mahal family donated several AEDs to Watchung Hills in Janet’s memory on the same evening as Watchung Hills adopted the school policy to implement Janet’s law.
"Now the unfortunate passing of Janet, who many of us consider very much a part of our class of 2013 and who would have been a college senior this year, has demonstrated how one families tragedy can lead to another families triumph, said Morrison.Who could have ever imagined the implementation of the law in Janet’s name would play an important role in saving the life of one of our own students, Sarah Magaldo."
"Andrew and Emma and Mr. Loffler and school nurses were in a position to help save Sarah’s life because of their EMT training and the gift that Janet gave to us all, the efforts of the Zillinski family and Assemblyman Bramnick to make Janet’s Law a reality, the efforts of our school resource officer and police department, the efforts of our EMTs and our fire department all supported by the leadership of our Mayor Carolann Garafola and our Township Committee," said Morrison. This paints a true picture of a community working together for our common good."
"The teamwork of our students, our staff, the emergency responders, the doctors at the hospital, our legislators like Assemblyman Bramnick, private citizens who work to make the world a better place for others such as Mr. and Mrs. Zilinski underscores the importance of education and collaboration toward a common goal for the greater good," said Jewett.
"At a time when there has been so much attention to all that is wrong with our nation," said Morrison. This gathering here this evening, this remarkable community celebration, is a testament of all that is right."
Warren Mayor Carolann Garafola and Deputy Mayor Victor Sordillo addressed the board.
According to The Janet Fund, Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the leading cause of death on school property.Janet’s Law goes into effect on September 1, 2014. It was signed by Governor Christie on September 21, 2012 and requires all New Jersey public and private schools to have an AED available in an accessible, unlocked location within close proximity to the gymnasium or athletic field. It also requires five trained responders, the establishment of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest emergency action plan and signs providing direction to the location of the AED.
In memory of Janet, the Janet Fund works to raise awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, lobbies for legislation, and develop strategies to prevent other families from experiencing a similar tragedy. Part of the mission is to distribute AEDs to schools, camps and youth organizations. The Janet Fund is committed to helping schools acquire AEDs to comply with the law.
To learn more about the Janet Fund visit www.thejanetfund.org.