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Pols want defibs for transit since PATH heart death


Two weeks after The Jersey Journal broke the story of a Kearny man who died after suffering a heart attack on a Newark-bound PATH train, legislators are calling for a bill that would require transit agencies to equip buses, trains and transit stations with defibrillators. "I was shocked to find out that they didn't have them," said Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, D-Jersey City, referring to the series of articles in the Journal that spurred the legislation, which is being co-sponsored by Assemblyman Albio Sires, D-West New York. "It seems like a common sense place to put them." Sires said he was also surprised to learn about the scarcity of defibrillators at mass transit facilities throughout the state. "This would be as natural as having an emergency brake on a train," he said.

Initially, Quigley said the legislation would compel NJ Transit to add the life-saving devices to buses, trains and light rails. However, legislation targeted at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would take longer to implement because both states would need to adopt the appropriate measures, Quigley said. Officials from NJ Transit did not return a phone call seeking comment.

In addition to the bill, Quigley said she is preparing a resolution urging PATH to put defibrillators on trains. She said she hopes to see them added soon after the fiscal year begins on July 1. "It's such a shame that this legislation, and in so many other instances, we wait until there is a tragedy," she said.

Andrzej Nadolny, 50, collapsed, and later died, soon after his train pulled out of the Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City earlier this month. It took more than 20 minutes for emergency services to arrive at the Newark station with a defibrillator. Medical statistics show that a victim of cardiac arrest has an 80 percent chance of survival if a defibrillator is used immediately after an attack. Those chances decrease by 10 percent for every minute that passes. Monica Nadolna, Nadolny's daughter, said she wished legislators would have moved on this issue before her father's death. "This is what they were supposed to do before not after," she said. "So many people are riding the train. This could happen to me or you and no one knows when it's coming."

The Port Authority has acknowledged that it has 200 defibrillators but only two of them are at PATH stations. The bulk of the rest are at the three major airports. The bi-state agency said it plans to add 1,200 defibrillators, including at least one at every PATH station, by May.

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