Graphic: Adam (right) and Bryce shortly before the accident
As a Perth-based family, the Hunters never expected to need the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Adam Hunter is a Senior Constable for WA Police, and he survived what is known as a non-fatal drowning.
In January, they were staying in Busselton with eight other families from their son’s primary school. This annual holiday has become a summer tradition.
One morning, they all headed out for some fun on a jetski. Its owner Anthony was riding it, another dad Danny – who is a former Navy clearance diver – was the spotter on the back, and they were towing Adam and his mate Bryce on an inflatable. During their turn, the couch hit a wave, flinging Bryce and Adam into the ocean.
The impact of the wave catapulted Adam high up into the air and he hit his head hard on the water when he landed.
Fortunately, he was wearing a life jacket, but he swallowed a lot of water before his mates managed to get him back to shore as he passed in and out of consciousness.
Adam was rushed to Busselton Hospital by ambulance and was intubated. Doctors told his wife Kate that the RFDS would need to transport him to Perth to be treated in ICU.
As he was being moved onto the plane, Kate was warned that Adam may not survive. It was difficult for the doctors to know at that stage how much water remained in his lungs, or if he had suffered a long-term brain injury.
Adam spent four days in an induced coma at Fiona Stanley Hospital before waking on his 42nd birthday. Kate asked him if I recognised her and he answered, “of course I know my beautiful wife.”
The couple later found out the RFDS doctor was able to drain a lot of water from Adam’s lungs during the flight to Perth, which helped to play a big part in his recovery.
The incident has had a huge impact on their family. For months, Adam was attending rehab every second day and was unable to drive or to care for his children on his own. His neurologist believes he is incredibly lucky to have walked away without severe long-term challenges.
Without the RFDS, who got Adam to ICU as quickly as they did, his story could have had a very different ending.