We recently received a letter from a nursing student who is taking a class on ethics in the medical field, asking about whether or not we support laws like New Jersey’s “Janet’s Law.” For those that do not know what this law is, it is a bill that requires all schools, public and nonpublic, to have automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and trained staff that can respond to sudden cardiac events, by September 1, 2014. The bill is named after Janet Zilinski, an 11-year-old girl that died during cheerleading practice. Since her death, her family has started a foundation that has been raising awareness and providing AEDs for places that do not have them.
While on the surface, Janet’s Law seems like a law everyone would support, there is a level of opposition to laws like these. One, are the usual disagreements that go along when any government regulations are made. While most people do think schools should have AEDs, some think it should not be a government regulated matter. The other issue is even though private schools are also being required to comply with the law; the government is not providing funds even though there are many schools that are already looking for ways to cut down on their tight budgets.
Now, we understand the reasoning behind those disagreements, but we think the law will do more good than harm. The benefit of government stepping in on this issue is because it puts the issue of sudden cardiac arrest involving children in the spotlight. There are schools that have never had a child suffer from one in their history and even schools that may never have one. The problem is, many times if a school has never had one happen on their grounds they either do not have an AED, or if they do it may be poorly maintained, or they may have a minimal amount of staff trained to actually handle cardiac arrest. When the NJ government made the law it said, hey this is something that does happen but can be prevented by a few cautionary measures.
On the issue of funding, Janet’s Law was pursued for six years by Janet’s parents, and during that time they also started a project called Janet’s Fund. With it they have donated AEDs all over the state. When the law was put into place, Janet’s father, Jim Zilinsk said that they will do all they can to make sure schools that have tight budgets will get help. In addition, the law was passed in September of 2012, so all schools are given two full years to find a way to afford it.
Although as an AED provider, our opinions on this matter are a little biased, but that is not just because we sell AEDs. We are biased because we have seen how an AED in the right hands will save a life and too many children have died because that was not available at their school. With that in mind, AED.com supports Janet’s Law and all other state laws that have put AEDs in schools. AED.com will continue to do what it can to help schools meet requirements and see that they can afford it.