Measure Would Encourage Local School Districts to Develop Emergency Response Plan, Provide Training to Students and Staff
TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan which would urge local boards of education to improve their preparedness in the event that a student or staff member suffers a heart attack on school grounds was unanimously approved by the Senate Education Committee today.
“According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country, accounting for more than 600,000 deaths each year,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic, and a teacher in Atlantic City public schools. “Our best weapon in the fight to improve the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is preparedness. This bill would encourage school districts to address their emergency response plans, and to improve upon efforts already being made to ensure a quick response in the event that someone – student or staff member – has a heart attack.”
The bill, SR-75, would urge local boards of education to improve staff and student preparedness for responding to incidents of sudden cardiac arrest. Under the resolution, every board of education in the State would be urged to take precautionary measures to protect students and staff from sudden cardiac death. School districts would be urged specifically to install an automated external defibrillator at each of its schools, to provide training to staff on the appropriate use of these devices, as well as training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for all staff and students, to develop an emergency action response plan for each school that addresses the appropriate staff response to cardiac arrests and similar health crises which may occur on school grounds.
“According to the American Heart Association, just 8 percent of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest victims in the United States survive,” said Senator Whelan. “However, when those victims receive CPR and early defibrillation with an automated defibrillator, their chances of survival can be more than doubled. Most schools already have an emergency response plan in place to address cardiac arrest among students as well as staff, but we want to encourage them to keep revisiting those plans and to give people suffering from cardiac arrest the greatest chance of survival as possible.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.