Taliban fired on me as I saved a life, reveals Sheffield heroine Michelle

In the firing line: Sheffield paramedic Michelle Ping rescued an injured soldier who had been given up for dead.
In the firing line: Sheffield paramedic Michelle Ping rescued an injured soldier who had been given up for dead.

HERO Sheffield paramedic Michelle Ping has told how she dramatically saved the life of a wounded soldier under fire from the Taliban while on duty as a reservist in Afghanistan.

The brave 37-year-old, from Dungworth, had to go alone on to a rooftop to make the rescue as bullets tore through the air.

She refused to give up on the injured Highlander after he was shot in the head and his colleagues had left him believing he was dead - and he is now recovering from his ordeal.

Former Sheffield schoolgirl Michelle, a member of the Royal Navy reserves, was stationed with the Fourth Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland - the Highlanders - as part of her tour of duty in Helmand Province, when the incident happened.

She said: “While in Helmand, I would go on patrol with the boys and we were on an operation in an area where we hadn’t been before.

“We landed on the helicopters at dawn, it was like something out of the computer game, Call of Duty.

“All day long while we were there, British platoons were being shot at. In the afternoon, we went into a compound to resupply with ammunition and we then got smashed by Taliban fire for a few hours.

“Some of the boys were on the roof and one - Highlander Craig Paterson - got shot in the head.

“The other guys up there evacuated to safety and thought he was dead. I went up on the roof and all the Taliban who had been shooting at the boys turned their attentions on me. Someone had taken Craig’s helmet off and he was lying with his eyes open not moving. I thought ‘I’m not going to let you die’. I shook him and he came round.”

Michelle said that due to the trauma 22-year-old Craig had received he did not know what was happening and wanted to sit up.

She recalled: “I had to lie on top of him to stop him. Some of the boys came up and gave me a hand, and we pushed him off the rooftop into the arms of two other boys below, then we had to run with him for half a mile to a secure helicopter site so he could be evacuated.

Craig was flown to Kandahar and then back to the UK for treatment. He is now at the MOD’s Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey, where Michelle said his recovery is going well. She said: “He is having to have a metal plate in his skull and because he was hit on the left-hand side of his head, he has some impairment on the right hand side of his body but he has all his faculties.

“He just can’t remember the incident.”

Craig was due to accompany Michelle to The Sun’s Military Awards 2011 - an event being attended by celebrities and royals including Prince William and Harry - where her bravery saving his life has led to her being on a shortlist of three for Reservist of the Year. She and other nominees were also invited to 10 Downing Street for a reception.

Michelle, an Able Seaman and former pupil at the old Earl Marshal School in Fir Vale, Sheffield, said: “I was just doing my job - I’m so excited to have been nominated for the awards.”

Proud dad Graham Ping, of Grimesthorpe, said: “When Michelle was deployed this last time, she just said she was going abroad - we only found out it was Afghanistan just before she went. I said she wanted her head examining - but I am so proud of her.”