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.