Ramp we all dread


AS the am­bu­lance whisked the wounded sol­dier away to hos­pi­tal, Dr Dan Pronk slumped against his med­i­cal kit on the tar­mac.

In the dust and hell­fire of battle, and then dur­ing the hec­tic 25-minute chop­per ride back to base, Pronk had thought of noth­ing but try­ing to stem the bleed­ing from the hole in Sap­per Rowan Robinson’s neck and keep­ing his heart pump­ing.

Now, with Robinson in the hands of sur­geons, there was noth­ing more Pronk (pic­tured be­low) could do. Noth­ing but think.

“I just felt numb. I didn’t know how to feel,” Ma­jor Pronk re­called about that day in June 2011.

“I think at that point I knew Rowan’s in­juries were un­sur­viv­able and I knew it was in­evitable that we were go­ing to be hav­ing another ramp cer­e­mony.”

A ramp cer­e­mony is the name of the farewell that troops in the field give to fallen com­rades.

The mo­ment of­fers a rare in­sight into the emo­tional toll faced by the medics who serve along­side the spe­cial forces of Aus­tralia’s Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand.

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