Raffaele Cattalini reunited with St John Ambulance volunteers Kim and Sue Maddrell who saved his life


Raffaele Cattalini (centre) of Gidgegannup with Volunteer Ambulance Officers Kim (left) and Sue Maddrell. Picture: David Baylis
Raffaele Cattalini (centre) of Gidgegannup with Volunteer Ambulance Officers Kim (left) and Sue Maddrell. Picture: David Baylis

THE 73-year-old son of northern Italian migrants knew he was in a bit of strife.

Raffaele Cattalini tried lying down, sitting but nothing could ease the chest pain.

“I said to my wife ‘gee, you better ring an ambulance because I’m not going well’,” the retired farmer and hydrostatic test engineer said.

St John Ambulance volunteers Kim and Sue Maddrell arrived soon after, when Raffaele went into cardiac arrest and had to be revived.

That was in his Gidgegannup house in February and recently he and wife Judietta welcomed the St John pair back to thank them.

“I don’t think words can express it,” Raffaele said.

“They are to be congratulated because they took me through.

“Ten minutes is a fair while to be without breathing and no heart beat.”

They broke a couple of ribs pumping his chest and used a defibrillator to get his heart going again before taking him to St John of God Hospital Midland, where he made a full recovery after surgery for a blocked artery.

“I’m not after any write-up for myself,” he said.

“I want to see those people appreciated.”

He’s grateful to be alive – “going very well; amazing” – and to be able to talk about his Italian heritage.

“Mum came out from Italy in the last immigration boat before the Second World War,” he said.

“I was born in Spearwood on November 20, 1942. I am one of those fortunate people to have had Italian parents.

“The war started up and Italians weren’t allowed in hospitals so I was born at home.”

The St John saviours

Kim Maddrell joined St John Ambulance in 2008 followed by wife Sue in 2009.

The pair, who have been married for 37 years, often work side by side on the Morangup-based ambulance.

They were thrilled to see Raffaele doing so well.

“This kind of work and this kind of result gives you a good feeling,” Kim said.

“It is a rare thing, a successful resus, and just to see him like this is very good.

“We’re happy and a little bit humbled. We don’t often see patients we’ve treated post recovery but this was a little different.”

Wheatbelt community paramedic Pat O’Dal praised the crew for restarting Raffaele’s heart against the odds.

St John WA has more than 3000 ambulance volunteers providing pre-hospital care in more than 160 locations across regional WA.