A COUNTRY footy legend died on the field but lived to tell the tale thanks to a quick-thinking nurse who happened to be on the sidelines.
Hall of Famer John “Shorty’’ Martiniello was clinically dead after suffering a heart attack while umpiring a Goulburn Valley match between Rochester and Benalla on Saturday.
But in an incredible stoke of good fortune, the Rochester Football Club had a lifesaving defibrillator and a have-a-go-hero on stand-by.
Rochester trainer Athol Hann recently returned to the semi-rural town from a stint in the intensive care ward of Royal Perth Hospital, where he saw plenty of patients die from coronary attack.
So when Martiniello suffered the heart attack early in the third quarter of the reserves clash at the Reserve St oval, sending shock waves through the crowd, the nurse knew he had to act fast.
“He’s a very lucky man, not many people in his position survive that,’’ he said
“`It’s a very low percentage even if it happens in a hospital, and the only thing that saved him was the defibrillator.’’
Hann and about half a dozen supporters and staff including medical students worked on Martiniello until an ambulance arrived and a helicopter eventually took him to The Alfred hospital.
His heart had stopped and had to be brought back to life with a series of desperate jolts from the defibrillator.
Martiniello, who played a record 316 matches for Benalla, won six best and fairests and was inducted into the Ovens and Murray Football League Hall of Fame last year, had two stents inserted in his heart and is expected to make a full recovery.
His grateful wife Vicky hailed Hann and those who helped save her husband’s life heroes.