Samaritan Law Not The End of AED Work
Automatic defibrillators are popping up in many spots in Mendham and Chester, but compliance isn't mandatory yet.
Last week, Governor Chris Christie signed the Good Samaritan Law, which absolves those trying to help save lives of responsibility if they cause injury while attempting to give aid, and extends that protection to people owning or using an automatic external defibrillator (AED) during a cardiac arrest.
While that step was crucial, the work to ensure all schools and athletic fields are protected by AEDs continues. An AED is a portable device that is used to restore heart rhythms to patients in cardiac arrest, and people like Wendy Hurdman in Chester and Dawn Nutt in Mendham have been working tirelessly to arrange the purchasing and set up of the devices in their communities.
"Hopefully next on New Jersey 2012 agenda is to pass Janet's bill, which is in appropriations committee that would require all New Jersey public and private schools to have an AED available on site and for recreational events," Hurdman said after the Samaritan Law was signed. "Right now AEDs are not mandated for our schools, although they are in other states."
Law or not, Hurdman is continuing to make strides integrating the defibrillators into the community. After a meeting with Chester Borough Mayor Bob Davis, Recreation Director Maxine Finney and Administrator Valerie Egan, the borough looks to be moving forward on a pair of units for the concession stand in the Municipal Park and Grove Street, Hurdman said.
"Steve Mountain in Mendham Township is also happy to work with coaches on AED/CPR training with the Mendham First Aid Squad," Hurdman said. "And Dawn Nutt and the West Morris Junior Women's Club are still fundraising for two units at Ralston and Ironia."
"Wendy Hurdman did a phenomenal job fundraising and making sure we had one," said Chester School Business Administrator Mary Jane Canose. "Our custodians bring them in every night and the batteries are budgeted for."
Hurdman is hoping the successful set up of AEDs in surrounding communities will help ease the approval process in Chester Township.
"I’m still working with the township to get approval for outdoor AEDs
and am beginingn fundraising for our other Chester fields like Highlands and
Chubb," Hurdman said. "We also are looking for an additional unit at Black River and in Township Hall."
At a recent meeting of the Mayor and Council in Chester Township, Mayor Bill Cogger mentioned that he heard many positive things about the AEDs, including a vote of confidence from Mendham Borough Mayor Neil Henry.
"He says they are very happy with them," Cogger said.
Chester Township Councilman Matt Kass, who has been cautious in lending his support of AED installation, tempered that support.
"Well I just read a Consumer Affairs report that said they were a waste," Kass said. "In the interest of being fair and balanced."
"They convinced me to buy a Pinto," Cogger replied.
For her part, Hurdman isn't deterred by the slow progress.
"We are trying to start with one and get it in the court room," Hurdman said. " A major government building still does not have one on site and we are going to keep working to get them in there."