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Athletic trainer helps save referee's life

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Buffalo: Athletic trainer helps save referee's life
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Last week, a Lancaster man went from refereeing a basketball game at Mount Mercy Academy to being rushed by ambulance to Mercy Hospital. As YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti tells us, a specially trained woman in the stands helped save his life.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A special reunion at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo Thursday as 54-year-old sports referee Jim Martek got to thank athletic trainer Melissa Hudecki - who he calls his angel of mercy.

"Somebody was watching over me. Somebody put her in the right place," said Martek.

Friday, Martek was refereeing a varsity basketball game here at Mount Mercy Academy when he collapsed on the court.

That's when Hudecki put her training into action.

"Immediately, got off the bench where I was, made it across the court to him, assessed the situation," said Hudecki.

Hudecki learned Martek had a prior heart condition, performed CPR and used an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator to revive him.

She says Buffalo firefighters responded in about five minutes to help, and he was taken to Mercy Hospital.

"The early resuscitation from Melissa and as well as the firefighters, really saved his life. The death rate associated with what Mr. Martek had is very high. Only less than five percent of the people actually live," said Dr. Rob Wall of Catholic Health's Heart Center.

Martek says he has a genetic history of heart problems and had triple bypass surgery 12 years ago.

His heart attack Friday was caused by an irregular heart beat. Now, he has a device that will act as an AED if this ever happens again.

"I thank everyone that I'm still here," said Martek.

Mount Mercy Academy contracts with AthletiCare for its athletic training services and although it's strongly recommended, Hudecki says it's not mandated by the state.

"A situation like this kind of opens your eyes and says, what are we doing? Why don't we have that kind of service for our athletes and our staff that are working the game?" said Hudecki.

Martek said, "Every school should reassess exactly what they do for an athletic event. And there is no doubt, they should have an athletic trainer on site."

Fortunately, Hudecki was there for Martek, who was able to go home Thursday.

But more than likely, Friday was his last game as a referee.

"I think it's time that I reassess what I do and it's time that I spend with my family," said Martek.

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