On 19 April last year, Lance Corporal Sinead Dodds, from the Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to 22 Engineer Regiment, her troop commander and driver were in a Mastiff armoured vehicle providing top cover to engineers who were clearing a route near an Afghan National Army checkpoint when a vehicle drove into the side of the Mastiff detonating around 100 kilograms of explosives.
The explosion lifted the 25-tonne Mastiff off the ground and threw it through 180 degrees, plunging the 3 crew into darkness. Lance Corporal Dodds said:
I remember being thrown about and then being woken up by the screams from the driver. I had been knocked unconscious. I managed to get out of my seatbelt, but because of the dust and smoke – the vehicle was on fire – I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.
I got to the front and checked that the driver wasn’t bleeding and made sure he was conscious. He was seriously injured and screaming, but I realised that, as long as he was breathing and wasn’t bleeding, he was OK for the moment, so I decided to go and find the second casualty.
Lance Corporal Dodds managed to find her troop commander who was coughing and spluttering and trapped under a chair after being thrown back into the vehicle.
Thinking quickly and with little consideration for her own well-being, Lance Corporal Dodds turned him over, a man at least twice her weight, to remove his body amour, as it was restricting his breathing, and carried out first aid.
With the Mastiff on fire and not knowing if they’d be subjected to a further attack, she knew she had to get help fast. Not knowing what was beyond the Mastiff’s doors, Lance Corporal Dodds bravely went out to seek help.
After not being able to find anyone, she decided to free the troop commander herself. She said:
I tried pulling his foot free from the seat, but my arms, back, everything, was hurting, and I just couldn’t get him out.
I had to keep checking that his airway was open and that he was breathing because his airway kept filling up with blood. I also had to keep talking to the other casualty and make sure that he was OK.
Eventually help came from other soldiers, and together they pulled the casualties from the vehicle to a safe place where Lance Corporal Dodds gave life-saving instructions to the crew that had come to help them.
Only when she was sure she had handed over control fully did she consider self-diagnosis. The troop commander, driver and Lance Corporal Dodds were then taken to the hospital in Bastion.
Lance Corporal Dodds’ clarity of thought and life-saving first aid skills while in the face of danger led to her being honoured with the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.
On hearing the news, Lance Corporal Dodds said:
It’s a shock. Any medic would have done what I have done; I’m really proud. It’s good that medics are being recognised.