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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Push for more defibrillators

Life-saving device thrust into the spotlight after an incident at Rochester last month.

LUKE MCMANUS July 12, 2014 3:49am

The role of a defibrillator in the revival of Benalla Football Club’s John Martiniello has shed light on the importance of the life-saving device.

Martiniello was umpiring a Goulburn Valley Football League match at Rochester’s Moon Oval on June 21, when he went into cardiac arrest.

Quick-thinking trainer and registered nurse Athol Hann acted quickly and sought help of the defib, which was inside the clubrooms.

Martiniello was clinically dead before Hann and a handful of volunteers brought him back to life, with the automated device dubbed by Hann as the essential tool in the emergency.

The event struck a chord with many, including those who had a part to play in delivering the device to Rochester Football Club.

Defib Your Club, For Life! program director Sue Buckman which provided the life-saving device, resonated with the story in more ways than one.

Ms Buckman lost her 19-year-old son, Stephen, from cardiac arrest while attending training at Rupertswood Football Club in May 2010.

Since then, Ms Buckman has made it her mission to ensure sporting clubs, organisations, workplaces, schools and councils had access to a simple device which could have potentially saved Stephen’s life.

‘‘If there was one available, it might have been a completely different story,’’ she said.

‘‘You’ve got a five-minute window and chances of survival decreases by 10 per cent as each minute passes.

‘‘We have to give people every possible chance.’’

Local football, netball and cricket clubs, it seems, are leading the charge in regards to acquiring defibs with Echuca, Moama and Echuca United benefiting from a generous donation about four years ago.

Other associations including Echuca Gun Club, Echuca-Moama Rockets and Echuca Basketball Association have since followed suit, with the EBA’s unit benefiting the many sporting or social groups who use the stadium’s facilities on a weekly basis.

Associated costs involved in buying defibs, on top of training, is a major deterrent for smaller, cash-strapped clubs.

Moama-Echuca Border Raiders and Echuca-Moama Hockey Club are two associations eager to buy defibs, but the $2000 price tag has ultimately clouded progress.

Hockey coach Mick Gulson tried but was unsuccessful in gaining a grant a couple of years ago, while soccer club president Rob Horan was more concerned with the ‘‘logistical issue’’ of making sure trained members were on hand at every match and training session.

‘‘Otherwise we’d be doing more harm than good,’’ Horan said.

Ms Buckman said the initiative, which has delivered 2423 units nationwide, continues to lobby the government to make defibs compulsory for all sporting organisations.

‘‘We want defibs to be as common as fire extinguishers,’’ she said.

‘‘Clubs need to take that next step and make an inquiry — they’d be surprised with the amount of money that’s out there for defibs.’’

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