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August 28, 2014

RE: Red Cross Resources on New School Mandates

Dear Mayor:

I wanted to share with you some additional important information from the New Jersey Red Cross regarding compliance with two new state laws that go into effect this fall.  They will require New Jersey school districts and students to be more prepared for potential cardiac emergencies. I hope this letter will help clear up any confusion that you may have regarding these two laws – laws that I believe will help save lives in our communities.

Janet’s Law (Chap. 51, P.L. 2012), which takes effect September 1, requires school districts to be prepared for cardiac emergencies that take place at schools and at school-sponsored athletic events.  A second law (Chap. 36, P.L. 2014) signed on August 20, 2014 will require all students graduating from New Jersey high schools to have completed a CPR course.

According to the journal Pediatrics, 2,000 Americans under the age of 25 die each year because of a cardiac emergency. The tragic part is that many of these deaths could be prevented.  Since Janet’s Law was signed in 2012, the American Red Cross in New Jersey has worked with school districts across the state to offer them a series of trainings, action plans and access to automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), a device that restores a normal heart rhythm.  This includes:

  • CPR and AED training for coaches, instructors and administrators;
  • Emergency action plans that can be adapted for local needs; and
  • Access to AEDs, including up to 30 percent discounts through their partners at Phillips, Physio Control and Zoll.

The new law requiring graduating students to pass a CPR course, offered by the Red Cross or another organization, applies to students who will graduate in the spring of 2015. Parents and students who want to find a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class can visit our state chapter’s “Take A Class” page. Group training for schools can be scheduled by filling out the request form on

Janet’s Law was enacted to commemorate Janet Zilinski, an 11 year old cheerleader from Warren, NJ, who died in 2006 after suffering sudden cardiac arrest at her school.  The school didn’t have an AED, nor was there anyone who knew how to perform CPR. 

Under Janet’s Law, every New Jersey school (public and private) will be required to have an AED on site, in a clearly marked place near the gym or an athletic field with staff members, such as a coach or trainer, certified in how to use it.  As an alternative, a certified EMT or other first responder must be present at all practices or events. In addition, the schools must have a detailed action plan, including at least five staff members certified in CPR, in case a student or staff member has a cardiac emergency.

Acting Governor Kim Guadagno signed a separate bill on August 20, 2014 that requires all graduating high school students to pass a course in CPR.  New Jersey is the third state to implement such a law, joining Illinois and Oklahoma.  Regulations implementing the law, which received broad bipartisan support, are still being written by the state Department of Education.  The Red Cross is working with the state to ensure the regulations can be implemented in the simplest manner possible for seniors graduating this spring. 

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director 



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