By Axel Miranda
Director, NJ State Government Affairs, American Red Cross
Here in New Jersey, I have seen the lifesaving potential of CPR/AED training in the hands of young people.
When 76-year-old Peter Baker collapsed during his workout at a Closter, N.J. gym where 17-year-old Tyler Williams worked, the Northern Valley Regional High School student called 911 and performed CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived.
By administering CPR, Tyler gave Peter a fighting chance for survival and he was able to recover.
Thanks to two new laws being implemented at the start of this school year, many more New Jersey residents will have that same fighting chance should they have an unexpected cardiac emergency.
On September 1, New Jersey schools will implement Janet’s Law. Janet’s Law was written and signed to commemorate Janet Zilinski, an 11-year-old cheerleader from Warren who died in 2006 after suffering sudden cardiac arrest at her school. Unfortunately, no one at the school had access to an automatic external defibrillator (AED) or knew how to perform CPR.
Under Janet’s Law, every New Jersey school, both public and private, will be required to have an AED on site in a clearly marked place and staff members certified on how to use it. In addition, the schools must have at least five staff members certified in CPR and an action plan in case a student or staff member has a cardiac event.
At the same time, a new law signed in August will go into effect and require all high school students to take a CPR class as requirement for graduation. I am proud that Governor Chris Christie invited the Red Cross to participate in the signing ceremony to recognize the lead role the Red Cross has played in ensuring that school districts are prepared to implement the laws when the school year starts.
These laws take two small, but important, steps that will make New Jersey a safer state as more young people, and those who educate them, are prepared for emergencies.
I encourage you to be ready for the start of this school year. Find a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class near you. Group training can be scheduled by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
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