New Jersey Students To Learn CPR, Use of Defibrillator

In New Jersey, starting with the incoming freshman class, all high school students will be required to learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator in order to graduate. Matt Friedman of The Star-Ledger says that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, acting governor while Gov. Chris Christie campaigns for Republicans in Oklahoma and Kansas, signed the bill at a middle school where a student collapsed in June and was revived by staff members who used CPR and an automated defibrillator.

"Put simply, this law will save lives," Guadagno said in a statement. "These critical skills are easy to learn and, as we heard today, can make all the difference in the world to someone in cardiac arrest. Our actions today ensure that more residents than ever will be equipped when the unthinkable happens."

With very little opposition, the legislature passed the bill in June as part of the implementation of Core Curriculum Content Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. The basis for the instructions is modeled on programs from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross. For those who suffer cardiac arrest, survival rates can double or triple if CPR is administered in the first few minutes.

According to the AHA, about 424,000 people suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year, and most of these events result in death. The only ways to revive a victim are with CPR and defibrillation. There is no warning before cardiac arrest, which is brought on when the electrical system malfunctions in the heart. An article in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services says that the students who learn CPR and the use of a defibrillator are not required to receive certification.

On September 1, Janet's Law will take effect, which requires all public and private schools, K-12, to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) on site and to have at least five school employees to be certified in CPR/AED. Janet's Law was passed in 2012, and is named for Janet Zilinski, who died after suffering sudden cardiac arrest at cheerleading practice in 2006. Some AEDs are being placed in schools through the Heart Heroes AED Matching Funds Program, while other schools have budgeted funds for AED.

George Laman had a daughter who died six years ago during a drill team practice at St. Charles North High School, so he hopes that the new law will be taken seriously by teachers and students.

"If you have an emergency situation, you don't have time to think," the Campton Hills resident said. "If you pay attention, you have a much better chance of being successful."

In Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Lauren Laman Bill into law, which will require all Illinois high schools to learn how to use an AED and to administer CPR, according to Ashley Sloboda writing for the Kane County Chronicle. The law went into effect on July 1, in time for the school districts in the Tri-Cities and Kaneland areas to be in compliance. Now, teachers and administration need to design the logistics surrounding getting equipment, staffing, and scheduling.

Lauren Laman went into sudden cardiac arrest during a 2008 drill team practice at St. Charles North High School. There was an AED approximately 40 feet away, but it was not used, and Lauren died before paramedics arrived. The Laman family sued the school and three coaches for negligence, but the case was dismissed. After that, the family fought for for a bill that would provide training and equipment at Illinois' schools, in their daughter's memory.

"It think it is time for the teachers to get on board," Laman said. "This is an opportunity for teachers to set an example for their students and have the satisfaction of being able to save lives."

Lisa Meister, a Geneva High School teacher and certified instructor with the American Heart Association, said students who take a unit learning CPR, become certified in CPR, AED, and first aid for adults, children, and infants.

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