New Measure Would Require All NJ Schools To Install Defibrillators, Train In CPR

defibrillator on wallA new bill would require the installation of defibrillators in all NJ schools, as well as CPR training for all students and staff. The lead Assembly democratic sponsors of an initiative to create awareness of cardiac illness in student-athletes applauded the Senate Education Committee’s passage of the measures today.

The bill sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., and Assemblywomen Bonnie Watson Coleman and Elease Evans is part of a two-bill package that would require the development of an information campaign about a specific type of heart disease – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – and improve school preparedness for responding to incidents of sudden cardiac arrest.

The measure unanimously passed the full Assembly in June and now heads to the full Senate for final legislative approval.

“HCM is widely recognized as one of the leading causes of sudden death in student athletes,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex), the panel’s chairman. “Our goal is to raise awareness in teachers, coaches parents and students of how this disease develops, the warning signs to look for and what to do if diagnosed.”

HCM is the most common genetic cardiovascular disease, occurring in one out of every 500 people.  It causes a thickening of the muscle of the heart, most commonly at the septum between the ventricles, below the aortic valve. The unusually thick heart muscle stiffens the walls of the heart and causes abnormal aortic and mitral valve function, which can impede normal blood flow out of the heart. While the disease is usually asymptomatic until sudden cardiac death, it can be detected with a very high degree of accuracy through electrocardiography (EKG) or echocardiogram.

According to the sponsors, the need for legislation increasing the awareness of HCM became apparent after the abrupt collapse and death of Edison High School football star Kittim Sherrod more than a year ago. Sherrod had been on a training run when, at the corner of Mercury and Vineyard roads in Edison, he collapsed and died of HCM.

“Student athletes are taking the right steps to live a healthy life through exercise,” Said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer). “However, precautions need to be taken so that their lives are not cut short by silent killers, like HCM.”

The measure approved today (SR-75/AR-84), would urge all boards of education in New Jersey to take precautionary measures to protect students and staff from sudden cardiac death through:

·        The installation of an automated external defibrillator in every school;
·        The training of staff on the appropriate use of defibrillators;
·        The development of an emergency action response plan for each school that addresses the appropriate use of school staff in responding to cardiac arrest and similar health crises on school grounds; and
·        The implementation of a CPR training program for all students and staff.

“The more student athletes and their parents know about the dangers of heart disease, the more chance they have of being tested and finding a potential problem before it becomes a full blown tragedy,” said Evans (D-Passaic). “When it comes to heart disease, early detection saves lives.”

“In a cardiac crisis, every second is critical and the smallest delay in treatment could literally mean the difference between life and death,” said Diegnan. “Improving awareness of potential cardiac diseases and teaching school staff and students how to react to such crises will undoubtedly save lives.”

The second bill (A-2744/S-2128) in the package would require the state Department of Education (DOE), with help from the state Department of Health and Senior Services, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, to develop a program that provides information regarding HCM.  School districts would be required to provide the information to all students, their parents and coaches.  Coaches also would be required to provide student athletes with information on private HCM screening options.

The measure would also expand the role and membership of the New Jersey Student Athlete Cardiac Screening Task Force. Currently, the eight-member task force studies, evaluates and makes recommendations relating to measures that may be taken to enhance screening of student athletes for cardiac conditions.  Under this bill, the task force would be expanded to include three additional members, chosen from members of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, the coach of a high school athletic team, the parent or guardian of a child who has been diagnosed with or died from HCM and the Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey. The scope of the task force would be expanded to include a review of and suggested updates to the DOE’s annual athletic pre-participation physical examination form. TLS.

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  1. This is a very smart move, this will save a lot of lives. Everyone should learn CPR and first aid. DONT WAIT FOR AN EMERGENCY!!! NOW is the time!!!

  2. I had my cpr class with the redcross and they were great and provided some very experienced instructors. I recommend that everyone call the redcross and get trained.

  3. I don’t ususally post on here but I feel compelled to. I took a class with Health Saver Training Solutions. I see their number on here and feel they deserve some recognition. Shai understood my needs and worked with my schedule in MY home. And he even brought a female for my wife to teach her. I feel much better knowing that me and my wife are prepared in case of a tragic event happens. Thanks Shai Viron. 732-50- TRAIN

  4. Perhaps this program can be funded with Federal Title One money allocated to the Lakewood School District (yes, all our taxpayer dollars). The Lakewood Board of Education recently deemed it appropriate to use $120,000 of Federal Title One money to fund the studying of the Torah, not sure what happened to the separation of Church and State here. Federal money allocated for the education of ALL the school children of Lakewood (yes, this DOES include Public School Children) would be more appropriately spend funding this program instead.

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