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Rescued wakeboarder reunites with CareFlight crew

Gold Coaster Alan Hockings vividly remembers New Year’s Day at Lake Borumba near Imbil.

It was the day his nine-year-old son Jairus came dangerously close to losing his arm following a freak wakeboarding accident.

“We were on the water early that day. It was a beautiful morning and the water was as smooth as glass,” Alan said.

Jairus had finished the first run on his wakeboard and was being towed back to the changeover point in the bay behind a ski boat.

“I was driving the boat parallel to the shore to drop him off,” Alan said.

Jairus had done this many times before, but on this occasion things went horribly wrong.

“He crossed the wash and headed toward the bank where his grandfather and brother were waiting,” he said.

“For some reason, instead of turning again and coming to a stop in the water, he kept going straight.”

Jairus slammed directly into the bank and smashed his arm against a small ledge of hard eroded soil.

The nine-year-old seriously injured his arm in the impact – the humerus pierced the skin and blocked an artery.

Without rapid medical intervention, Alan knew it was a very real possibility that young Jairus could lose his arm.

“He was obviously in a great deal of pain, but it was only once we had made the 000 call and we were waiting that the emotion really started,” Alan said.

“He was in my arms sobbing that he just wanted to explode it hurt so much.”

RACQ CareFlight Rescue’s Sunshine Coast based helicopter was urgently called in to airlift Jairus from the Imbil Showgrounds to Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.

He would become CareFlight’s very first patient to be airlifted in 2016.

“The crew was marvellous. They were quick and efficient without being hurried,” he said.

“On board the aircraft it was extremely well kitted out for the patient.

“I was impressed that Doctor Maik Plaeschke even had an ultrasound to check for internal injuries. It was very reassuring.”

On arrival at hospital, Jairus was whisked away for immediate assessment in the Emergency Department.

“They found the inner layer of the artery had ruptured, creating a flap that blocked blood flow in his arm,” Alan said.

Jairus underwent surgery to harvest a varicose vein from his leg to repair the ruptured artery in his arm.

Thankfully, the procedure saved his arm and Jairus made a full recovery.

Today, Jairus and Alan took a rare behind-the-scenes tour of CareFlight’s Sunshine Coast hangar and personally thanked the rescue crew, including Pilot Brent Hall, who rushed to his aid three months ago.

“We experienced wonderful care across the whole medical emergency system, but I would particularly like to thank the CareFlight crew who got Jairus to hospital,” Alan said.

“Without that flight, the outcome could have been grim indeed.

“Thank you for the wonderful service you provide to our community.”