WARREN, NJ - Eight years have passed since Janet Zilinski, an 11 year old girl from Warren, died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest on August 10, 2006. Had she lived, she would have graduated with the Watchung Hills Regional High School Class of 2013.
At the last meeting of the Watchung Hills Regional High School Board of Education, a resolution approving Regulation 5300R Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) complying with Janet's Law was unanimously approved. Janet’s Law goes into effect on September 1, 2014.
The Zilinskis were in attendance and spoke at the meeting.
“The law itself was about a seven-year process for us, and it does mean a lot to us, not just for my daughter’s namesake, but it’s for your kids, your grandkids, your friend, that’s why we did it,” said Jim Zilinski.
After their daughter Janet died at 11 years of age from sudden cardiac arrest when jogging during cheerleading practice, the Zilinski family started The Janet Zilinski Memorial Fund. Janet had suffered from an undetected congenital heart defect known as bilateral hypoplasia of the coronary arteries.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating. It is fatal if not treated within a few minutes.Victims of SCA often appear healthy, and the situation usually happens with little or no warning, according to information from The Janet Fund.
If a SCA victim is defibrillated within the first minute of sudden cardiac arrest, chances of survival are close to 90 percent. Every minute of delay in defibrillation reduces chances of survival.
According to The Janet Fund, Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the leading cause of death on school property. Janet’s Law goes into effect on September 1, 2014. It was signed by Governor Christie on September 21, 2012 and requires all New Jersey public and private schools to have an AED available in an accessible, unlocked location within close proximity to the gymnasium or athletic field. It also requires five trained responders, the establishment of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest emergency action plan and signs providing direction to the location of the AED.
In memory of Janet, the Janet Fund works to raise awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, lobbys for legislation, and develop strategies to prevent other families from experiencing a similar tragedy. Part of the mission is to distribute AEDs to schools, camps and youth organizations. The Janet Fund is committed to helping schools acquire AEDs to comply with the law.
The Janet Fund has provided free and low cost training in CPR and AED use to coaches and parents all over the state. It has donated many AEDs, which cost around $2,000, and most of all it provides people a chance to be heroes in a terrible situation and not just spectators.
The Janet Fund’s mission statement reads, “In keeping with Janet’s love and caring for others, we will perform random acts of kindness to those in need. We will do all of this with smiles on our face, laughter in our voices and love in our hearts, just like Janet.”
Awareness raised by Janet's Law has been credited with saving lives.
To learn more about the Janet Fund visit www.thejanetfund.org.