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"D" is for Defibrillators
By Andrew W. Li on November 2, 2017

As Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend, fire departments across New Jersey are reminding residents to check their home smoke detectors.

That’s a good idea, and it’s also a good time for New Jersey school districts to check and maintain their automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which have been required by Janet’s Law, N.J.S.A. 18A:40-41a, to be present in every school since September 1, 2014.

Although most school administrators may be aware that public and nonpublic schools are required to have AEDs and to establish emergency action plans for responding to sudden cardiac events, you might not remember that Janet’s Law also requires that each defibrillator must be “tested and maintained according to the manufacturer's operational guidelines."

  • When was the last time that the batteries for your district’s AEDs were checked? On average, an AED battery will last two to four years after installation.
  • Like batteries, AED electrode pads require inspection and replacement -- most pads have a "use by" date on the package and normally last two to three years.
  • Furthermore, AEDs are often placed in public areas where they can be disturbed or tampered with -- make sure the AED is intact and that nothing is broken or missing.

Janet’s Law also requires that the school district provide notification “to the appropriate first aid, ambulance, or rescue squad or other appropriate emergency medical services provider regarding the defibrillator, the type acquired, and its location."

  • Is the AED information provided to your local first responder accurate and up to date?
  • Has there been construction or renovation in the area where your AED is kept? You may want to make sure that the AED wasn’t moved during the construction/renovation work and is now in a different location than was reported to the local first responders.

Lastly, keep in mind that your district’s emergency action plan must include, at a minimum, a list of at least five (5) school employees, team coaches, or licensed athletic trainers “who hold current certifications from the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or other training program recognized by the Department of Health and Senior Services, in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and in the use of a defibrillator.”

  • Is your list current? That list must “be updated, as necessary, at least once in each semester of the school year."
  • Does everyone on your list hold a current certification in CPR and AED use?

While Janet’s Law does include immunity from civil liability for school districts and their employees in the “acquisition and use of defibrillators," there may not be a similar immunity incorporated into the statute for such events as a non-functioning AED or one that cannot be located.

That’s why we are recommending that school districts regularly check and maintain their AEDs, to ensure compliance with Janet’s Law.

For more information, please contact Parker McCay’s school law attorneys

The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion.  You should consult a lawyer concerning your specific situation and any specific legal question you may have.

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