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I braved Taliban's gunfire to help my wounded comrade; Paramedic's daring mercy dash wins bravery award.


A PARAMEDIC is in line for a top military award after a courageous effort to help bring wounded British army personnel home during a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Tony Stephens, a paramedic based at Rhyl ambulance station, has been put forward for recognition following his actions as part of the RAF MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team) in the Sangin area last December.

The reservist paramedic, part of 4626 Squadron based at RAF Lyneham, swapped the Welsh Ambulance Service's Mercedes Sprinter ambulance for the long ramp of an RAF Chinook helicopter to carry out his role in Afghanistan.

The corporal, part of a team of four including another paramedic, a doctor and a nurse, spent from September to December being dispatched from Camp Bastion to bring casualties off the ground in Helmand province. One of Tony's roles was to organise the loading of patients through triage from the helicopter ramp.

He said: "I dealt with about 170 patients; they ranged from children, right the way through to British and Afghan army, to treating the Taliban."

The Rhyl paramedic's bravery was recognised by the top brass when the MERT team flew into Sangin under fire to rescue two seriously injured soldiers.

"As we landed we took two rounds, one in the side and one above the pilot's head which went through a hydraulic pipe. Hydraulic fluid ended up all over the pilot but he actually managed to fly the aircraft back," said Tony.

He moved to the front of the ramp to locate the casualties and saw they were 100 metres away moving slowly towards the aircraft as one man was being carried on a poncho.

Tony recognised the troops' need for help after they stopped moving for three minutes and jumped off the ramp with a fire fight still ongoing and the possibility of improvised explosive devices to run towards the party.

With tracer rounds passing close to his legs the paramedic grabbed a corner of the stretcher and returned to the helicopter. His movement encouraged the other troops on the ground to reach the Chinook with the second casualty.

Both patients succumbed to their wounds, but Tony has been recognised for giving both the best possible care. AFGHANS KEY TO OFFENSIVE AFGHAN troops trained by British soldiers will take part in a major offensive against insurgents in central Helmand as an "equal partner". According to the Ministry of Defence, soldiers in Afghanistan's national army will join Operation Moshtarak against the Taliban in the coming days. They have all completed courses at the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC), described as the country's "soldier factory" as more than 5,200 soldiers and officers pass out each month. Speaking on the role of the Afghan troops in operations, Lt Col Nick Ilic said: "They are an equal partner, they fight alongside our soldiers. "They want this war to end as much as we do."


Rhyl Paramedic Tony Stephens, pictured in his civillian uniform (left) raced from the ramp of his crew's Chinook chopper to help carry a wounded soldier to safety Tony Stephens of Rhyl (right), has been put forward for recognition following his actions as part of the RAF MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team) in the Sangin area last December
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 10, 2010
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