Army medical personnel from across the country competed this week for one of the most coveted badges in the medical profession, hosted by the 62nd Medical Brigade.
More than 300 Soldiers are testing their field medical skills to earn the Army Expert Field Medical Badge, which began Saturday and ended Thursday on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The badge historically was awarded to U.S. Army medics who rendered treatment during combat. In June 1965, the U.S. Army expanded its awards program by implementing the EFMB for medical Soldiers who demonstrated the highest competence and knowledge in the career field.
The EFMB is awarded to Soldiers in the medical career field who successfully complete rigorous testing and performance exercises. The competition is so difficult, that in 2013 only 14 percent of competitors earned the badge.
We are creating professionalism in the Army medical career field, said Sgt. Maj. Abdel F. Guzman, NCOIC of the competition. This is a bench mark for us.
Contestants are required to memorize and demonstrate different performance steps at each testing area. Participants face disqualification if they miss more than three steps.
Demonstratable proficiencies are important because of the Armys post-deployment focus on training and efficiency, said Lt. Col. Edgar G. Arroyo, whos in charge of the competition.
The candidates will face three combat trauma lanes, day and night land navigation, a written examination and a 12-mile foot-march.
It may not sound like much, but each testing area is very detailed and leaves very little room for error, Guzman said.
The first lane will take more than an hour to complete and measures candidates ability to prioritize casualties and apply tactical combat casualty care to multiple casualties in a stress scenario.
The next challenge will put the contestants basic Soldier skills to the test. They will need to protect themselves and their casualty while facing obstacles, indirect fire, and chemical and biological contamination scenarios.
Sgt. 1st Class William Niemann, EFMB cadre and badge recipient, said every participant needs push through, but cautioned they should follow the steps in the regulation because we will be going by the book in our grading.
If the Soldiers skills get them to Lane 3, they will find a test of their ability to evacuate casualties to the next level of care.
The competition ended in Cowan Stadium, and those left standing Thursday after the land navigation and foot march received the Army medical communitys most sought after badge.
EFMB is the most coveted badge among medical personnel. It shows we have the same military tactical knowledge as our combat arms counterparts, Arroyo said.