Northam footy legend back in the game after sudden cardiac arrest

Press Release
  • Northam sporting legend Wade ‘Freddy’ Hunter survived a sudden cardiac arrest in the middle of a footy game thanks to the fast actions of community bystanders,  
  • Wade will play his 450th game for the Northam Federals this season after a remarkable recovery,  
  • St John WA Northam hosted a free first aid course for local sporting teams to equip them with the knowledge to save a life.  

A record-breaking local footy career almost came to a devastating end for Northam sporting legend Wade ‘Freddy’ Hunter when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in the middle of a game.  

Fit and healthy Wade had pulled on his Northam Federals guernsey and jogged onto Henry Street Oval for what he thought would be just another home game in July last year. 

Wade said he had been feeling a bit more fatigued than usual, but with more than 400 games under his belt over his stellar 32-year career, he pushed through. 

“In the second quarter of the game I collapsed, and that is all I remember until I woke up the next morning,” he said.  

Bystanders launched into action to save his life, phoning Triple Zero (000) before the umpire, also one of the small town’s police officers, began CPR.  

An off-duty nurse who had been barracking from the sidelines then stepped in while Wade’s mates ran to the clubrooms to retrieve an automated external defibrillator (AED) which shocked his heart back to life.

Northam cardiac arrest survivor Wade ‘Freddy’ Hunter is reunited with the St John WA team that helped save his life.


Luckily, a St John WA crew were just around the corner from the oval and were on the scene within five minutes to take over.  

“I was very lucky for it to have happened like that,” Wade said. 

With just one in 10 people surviving an out of hospital cardiac arrest, Wade had the fast and informed actions of his community to thank for his miraculous survival.  

And he was able to get back on the footy field last week for the first time as he charges towards his history-making 450-game milestone later this season. 

Wade was reunited with the St John WA team who helped save his life this month at a free community first aid course for local sporting clubs hosted by St John WA Northam. 

Wade attended alongside his dad Ross Hunter, a fellow club legend who has coached for more than 50 years and is one of four generations of their family to don the club colours.  

Wade said he was determined to learn first aid so he was able to help someone else the way his community helped him.  

“I just enjoy every day now and that is why I am here to learn first aid so I might be able to help someone do the same down the track if something ever happens,” he said. 

St John WA’s Dylan Campbell, Charlotte Powell, Greg Martin and Brooke Lincoln with Ross and Wade Hunter at a free community first aid training day in Northam.

St John WA Community Paramedic Charlotte Powell said it was rare to see a patient survive an out of hospital sudden cardiac arrest.  

“This will be my 12th year on road, and I have only been to a handful of incidents where you can actually get the patient back,” she said. 

“It really does come down to immediate, good quality CPR and the fact there was a community AED available and that was put on within the first couple of minutes and Wade had those shocks.  

“It happened in the best place possible for him, and that really good quality CPR and the shocks delivered, that’s what really saved him.” 

Research has shown a patient’s chances of surviving an out of hospital cardiac arrest decrease by about 10 per cent with every minute that passes without CPR and delivery of an AED shock, making bystander assistance vital in those first critical minutes until an ambulance arrives.  

St John WA Emergency Medical Dispatcher Brooke Lincoln who was on the line the day of Wade’s incident said there was no doubt the bystanders’ first aid knowledge saved his life.  

“Without CPR the chances of survival are substantially decreased,” she said. 

“Having that knowledge before you have even called Triple Zero (000) is so important because sometimes that 30 seconds before you get through to a Triple Zero operator is the difference between death and survival.” 

Ross and Wade Hunter joined in a community first aid training day in Northam.

St John WA aims to optimise a chain of survival to give out of hospital cardiac arrest patients the best chance at survival. 

This requires early recognition of cardiac arrest, activating a Triple Zero (000) response, initiating CPR and early defibrillation from an AED. 

St John WA Ambulance Transport Officer Greg Martin said Wade’s story was a clear example of the chain of survival in action.  

“We want to try to get as many AEDs out there as possible because it can happen anywhere,” he said. 

“That is what saves a life, to get early defibrillation and CPR, so by doing a first aid course and knowing what CPR is, listening to the Triple Zero (000) call takers and then getting a defibrillator on, that is the trifecta to have the best outcome.” 

To book a first aid course, visit

Share this:

Follow us on Social Media: