This month, in recognition of National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month and in support of Janet’s Law, The Janet Fund in Martinsville — started by the Zilinski family of Warren in memory of their daughter — will be donating 20 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to New Jersey schools.
Janet’s Law was signed by Governor Christie on September 21, 2012. The law goes into effect on September 1, 2014 and requires all New Jersey public and private schools to have an AED available in an unlocked, accessible location within close proximity to the gymnasium or athletic field, five trained responders, signs providing direction to the location of the AED and the establishment of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest emergency action plan.
The Janet Zilinski Memorial Fund was started by the Zilinski family of Warren after their daughter Janet died at 11 years of age from sudden cardiac arrest while jogging a lap during cheerleading practice. It was unknown beforehand that Janet had suffered from an undetected congenital heart defect known as bilateral hypoplasia of the coronary arteries.
The Janet Fund is committed to helping schools acquire AEDs to comply with the law. In memory of Janet, the Fund works to raise awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, lobbying for legislation to prevent sudden cardiac death in youth, developing strategies to prevent other families from losing their children and teens to this tragedy. Part of the mission is to distribute AEDs to schools, camps and youth organizations.
Which schools can apply, and how
To be eligible for one of the 20 AEDs that are being donated, a school must be a public or (not-for-profit) private school that does not already have at least one Automated External Defibrillator on the school premises. Any school wishing to apply for an AED can go to the Fund’s website to complete a grant application. All grant applications must be received by November 10.
To learn more about the Janet Fund and how to apply for an AED, visit www.thejanetfund.org. Grant applications should be mailed to The Janet Fund, PO Box 150, Martinsville, NJ 08846.
All recipients will be notified by November 30, as well as having the information posted on the Fund’s website.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating. Victims of SCA often appear healthy, and the situation usually happens with little or no warning, according to information from The Janet Fund. It is fatal if not treated within a few minutes.
If a SCA victim is defibrillated within the first minute of sudden cardiac arrest, his or her chances to survive are close to 90 percent but for every minute of delay in defibrillation, survival chances drop by percent. An estimated 40,000 lives could be saved per year if public access to AEDS were increased.
Sudden cardiac arrest leading cause of death on school property
SCA also is the leading cause of death on school property, The Janet Fund says.