Vitale/Madden Measure to Require Defibrullators at Health Clubs Approved by Senate

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Fred H. Madden that would require all registered health clubs in New Jersey to be equipped with an automated external defibrillator on site and have employees trained in its use was approved today by the Senate, with a final vote of 37-1.

“In situations of cardiac arrest, rapid response is the best way to save lives,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, who Chairs the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Health clubs and gyms are places of high activity; activity which can often put strain on the heart. Requiring the facilities to have defibrillators could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.”

A defibrillator is a device that provides an electric shock to the heart during a heart attack to try to reestablish a normal heartbeat.

The Senators’ measure, S-2867, would require all health clubs to have a defibrillator on site, and also have employees trained to use the device. Under the bill, owners/operators would be required to acquire at least one defibrillator, make sure the device is tested and maintained, and arrange and pay for training to ensure that the facility has at least one employee trained to use the device at all times during business hours. Facilities would be responsible for providing notification to local first responders that the device is on site.

In the bill, a registered health club is defined as an establishment which devotes 40% of its square footage to providing services or facilities designed for the preservation, maintenance or development of physical fitness and well-being.

“When a person’s heart stops beating, every second counts. The longer it takes for the heart to begin beating again, the lesser the person’s chances are of surviving the heart attack,” said Senator Madden, also a member of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens panel. “By requiring health clubs to have defibrillators on site, this measure would help prevent unnecessary heart attack deaths.”

Any health club found violating the bill’s provisions would be subject to fines of up to $1000.

This measure now heads to the Assembly for consideration.