Plan to install defibrillators in N.J. schools gains support

A New Jersey Senate committee has advanced legislation to prevent student-athlete deaths resulting from cardiac arrest.

What’s called Janet’s Law would require public and private schools in New Jersey to be equipped with automated cardiac defibrillators and have trained operators for them at sporting events.

The bill is named in memory of 11-year-old Janet Zilinski who died after collapsing during cheerleading practice in 2006.

Her mother, Karen, testified about the importance of having the defibrillators available.

“I witnessed another coach performing CPR on my daughter and we were waiting a very long time for help to arrive, over 20 minutes for EMS and another 20 minutes before we made it to the hospital,” she said. “It was an incredibly helpless feeling.”

Janet Zilinski’s father called on legislators to look beyond the costs.

“This can’t be about money. It has to be about saving lives,” said Jim Zilinski. “It has to be about giving youth a chance for a full and happy life. It has to be about looking at yourself in the mirror and saying ‘I did something today to save lives.'”

The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration. The Assembly passed it last month.

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