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Benalla umpire lucky to be alive after on-field heart attack

John 'Shorty' Martiniello survived a heart attack while umpiring on Saturday thanks to the quick action of a Rochester trainer and a defibrillator.

MATTHEW GALEA June 25, 2014 3:15am

Benalla senior assistant coach and club umpire John ‘Shorty’ Martiniello is lucky to be alive after suffering a serious heart attack at Rochester on Saturday.

Martiniello collapsed while attempting a ball-up during the reserves game between Benalla and the Tigers at Moon Oval.

Athol Hann, son of Rochester club president Max Hann, was running for the Tigers at the time and acted quickly to help save Mr Martiniello’s life.

Mr Hann, who had just returned to Rochester after a stint as an intensive care nurse at Royal Perth Hospital where he also did some emergency nursing, said the presence of two defibrillators at the ground was crucial in saving Mr Martiniello.

‘‘John was very lucky,’’ Mr Hann said.

‘‘Without the defibrillator, he wouldn’t be alive.’’

Mr Hann was initially unaware of the seriousness of Mr Martiniello’s condition, but acted quickly once he recognised he was in cardiac arrest.

‘‘I thought he might have been having a fit or a seizure, but it became clear he’d gone into cardiac arrest and I knew we had to start CPR,’’ Mr Hann said.

‘‘Compressions are the most effective thing to do until a defibrillator comes.

‘‘I did two rounds before the defibrillator came, so it was maybe four or five minutes, but we were able to keep the blood flowing and keep his brain ticking.

‘‘We shocked him and continued CPR for another minute and he regained consciousness and returned to his normal state and was alert,’’ Mr Hann said.


An Ambulance Victoria spokesperson confirmed Mr Martiniello was in a serious but stable condition when he arrived at Melbourne’s The Alfred hospital.

Mr Martiniello has three sons — senior Saints Will and James, as well as reserves player Richard — and a daughter, Hayley.

His wife Vicky is the club’s treasurer.

Benalla president Bruce Biggs arrived after the incident, but said his club was indebted to Hann’s quick actions.

‘‘It’s lucky there was a defibrillator on site,’’ Mr Biggs said.

‘‘The young Rochy trainer was brilliant. He saved his life.

‘‘(Martiniello) is a club legend.’’


Speaking after the game, Saints senior coach Luke Morgan was similarly keen to praise the efforts of Rochester.

Rochester president Max Hann saw the incident unfold and was happy with the response from all involved.

‘‘We have two defibrillators here, and we were lucky we had my son training for us and he knew what to do,’’ Max Hann said.

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