When ritual meets rescue

During a cultural ceremony in outback South Australia, Robert was struck by a sudden illness, sparking deep concern among family and friends. 

In need of urgent medical help, he was hundreds of kilometres from the nearest major hospital.

RFDS SA/NT | Robert Crilly

Proud Kokatha Yankunytjatjara man, Robert Crilly, is passionate about teaching his Aboriginal culture and heritage to younger generations through song, dance, art and storytelling.

He regularly commutes between Coober Pedy, the APY Lands and Port Augusta to carry out cultural commitments, and in March 2021, a ceremony in Far North SA took an unexpected turn, when Robert began experiencing extreme stabbing pains in his abdomen.

In a wave of concern, Robert’s family raced him to the nearest health clinic in Coober Pedy, still in traditional body paint and ceremonial attire.

“When I was out on Country, I was in the spaces of men’s business and I got really, really sick. It came down to the point where the elders, my family and brothers took me into the clinic to get some health checks,” he said.

RFDS SA/NT | Robert Crilly on a PC-12

With no time to spare, the unexpected nature of Robert’s appendicitis meant he required urgent medical attention in Port Augusta, more than 500 kilometres away.

The RFDS was called, and an aeromedical team swiftly responded to retrieve Robert and airlift him to Port Augusta Hospital for emergency treatment.

Watch the video for the whole story.

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