New Jersey Assembly Wants Hotels to Have Defibrillator on Every Floor

Feb 13, 2019

When you think of first responders you probably think of police, firefighters and EMTs. But hotel employees? Hotel workers in New Jersey could be added to that list if a bill that was recently passed by the Assembly makes its way through the Senate and acquires the signature of Gov. Phil Murphy.

The bill, A4486, passed by an overwhelming 72-2 count in the Assembly on Jan. 31. It had previously been reported out of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee by a unanimous, 7-0 vote. It has now been referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

The legislation is designated the “Michael Anthony Fornicola’s law.”

According to a statement accompanying the bill, “Fornicola passed away on May 29, 2012 due to cardiac arrests at Harrah’s Resorts in Atlantic City. The family believes that his life could have been saved if an AED (automated external defibrillator) was available on his floor.”

The bill would require, within a year after the bill’s effective date, hotel owners/managers to acquire, and maintain on site at the hotel, at least one defibrillator in each lobby, meeting room, banquet hall, fitness center and residential floor that shall remain accessible at all times. Those defibs must each be stored in a central, unlocked location that is known and accessible to employees.

Hotel owners/managers would also be required to ensure the defibrillators are tested and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s operational guidelines and to provide notification to the appropriate first aid, ambulance or rescue squad of the acquisition of defibrillators, their type and their locations. The location of each defib must be marked with a prominent sign.

The legislation would affect just about every type of sleeping accommodation because it defines “hotel” as “any hotel, inn, boarding house, motel or other establishment the proprietor of which offers and accepts payments for rooms, sleeping accommodations, or board and lodging and retains the right of access to, and control of, the premises which are let.”

And the bill could prove expensive for the owners of hotels no matter what the size. Large multi-floor hotels would need dozens or even scores of defibrillators; the price of even a couple of the life-saving machines at a mom and pop motel could dent mom’s and pop’s bottom line.

That’s not the only thing for which owners would have to shell out money. The bill also requires hotels to arrange for and pay for the training of employees in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator. To boot, they must also “ensure, during the hours when a public or private event or activity is taking place at the hotel, that at least one employee or volunteer who had current certifications from the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or other training program recognized by the Department of Health, in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator, is on-site and available to respond to any cardiac event.”

New Jersey had previously required health clubs, public and non-public schools, nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have defibrillators. No doubt requiring hotels to have them as well would be yet another aggravating regulation that hotel owners in the state would have to deal with.

On the other hand, the Legislature was presented with information that said the survival rate for a cardiac event can be as high as 90 percent when defibrillation is provided in the first minute after cardiac arrest, but the chances of surviving the event decrease by 7 to 10 percent with each minute that passes without defibrillation.

Rick Mellerup

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