Medic saves life of school chum soldier wounded by Taliban bomb

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Army medic gave first aid to Stephen Bainbridge

A SCOTS soldier who was blown up in an Armistice Day bomb attack was saved by an old school friend.

Stephen Bainbridge stepped on a Taliban land mine which tore off both legs below the knee and peppered his hips and hands with shrapnel.

In a remarkable coincidence, the 25-year-old Black Watch private was given life-saving medical treatment by an army doctor who was at the same Fife school as him.

Tom Blankenstein, 27, went to Balwearie High School, Kirkcaldy, with Private Bainbridge.

The medic carried out life-saving first aid as his old school friend waited for a helicopter to airlift Stephen to Camp Bastion.

Stephen was later transferred to Queen Elizabeth hospital, Birmingham, where he will undergo months of rehabilitation.

Today Stephen’s grandfather, Alfie, a former Black Watch soldier, said his grandson was “very lucky to be alive” after the November 11 attack.

He said: “When the two army officials came to my door on the Friday morning I immediately thought the worst.

Lucky

“When they flew us down to Birmingham and we were taken into the ward where he was I just thought, from the look of him wired up to all these machines with tubes coming out of every part of him, that he wasn’t going to make it.

“He is very lucky that he is still alive.”

Alfie added: “He has undergone a number of operations and had to have a further part of one of his legs amputated as it became infected.

“He faces further operations for skin grafts to his arm and leg and has also lost part of his fingers on his left hand, so he has a long struggle ahead of him.”

Stephen joined the Army in October after failing to find work in his hometown. He was on his first tour of duty and had spent just seven weeks in Afghanistan when the attack, in Helmand, occurred.

Stephen’s uncle Scott, 22, who lives with Stephen and his grandfather in Kirkcaldy, described the soldier as “more like a brother” and has been visiting him on an almost weekly basis.

He said: “He has now accepted that he is unlikely to walk without help ever again, and is starting to make jokes about it.

“He did take it hard to start with, but now he just wants to get into a wheelchair and get on with things. He is a real fighter.”

Both Alfie and Scott plan to spend Christmas in Birmingham before supporting Stephen when he is allowed home.

Alfie said: “We know he will require 24-hour care but if we can get him back to Kirkcaldy and get him accommodation we will be here to help look after him.”

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