News: Soldiers compete with selves to earn recognition for medical expertise
Story by Staff Sgt. Thaddius Dawkins
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Medical soldiers from throughout the Army last week put their skills to test last week attempting to earn the Expert Field Medical Badge.
The coveted award is earned after successfully completing various medical and soldiering tasks, including properly evaluating a casualty, treating a chest wound, land navigation and movement under fire. The 5-day event culminates with a 12-mile road march in which candidates must complete with a 35-pound pack and within three hours.
“The EFMB is earned by completing a series of medical and warrior tasks that test a soldier’s overall medical skills, as well as their basic soldier skills,” said Maj. Ken Lutz, who over saw last week’s competition. “One unique thing about the EFMB is that all medical corps soldiers are allowed to participate. This means there will be combat medics, as well as medical logistical soldiers, medical equipment repairers and every other job that falls under the medical corps.”
The tasks are graded by other EFMB holders from various units who go through a stringent validation and standardization process in order to ensure the grading standards are equal across the board, Lutz said.
The event began with 194 candidates, many of whom traveled to Fort Bragg from various military installations. By day five’s road march, only 56 met the tough EFMB grading criteria. Candidates were required to pass at least 33 of 42 tasks.
“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go,” said Army Staff Sgt. Julian C. Jones, a combat medic with the 240th Forward Surgical Team here. “A lot of people, first-, second-, third-timers even; this is my second time, and it’s been a great experience. Hopefully, I get through the rest of it.”
Jones failed the road march by just minutes, but hopes to get another shot soon, he said.
Once the dust settled and the three-hour mark came, just eight soldiers completed the foot march to standard.
“Less the 20 percent pass the EMFB certification at any time,” Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Carvalho, U.S. Army Northern Regional Medical Command commander, said. “In fact, today less than four percent passed,” he said.
Carvalho was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony. He earned his EFMB some 30 years ago and knows first-hand the importance of the badge.
“What you will soon be wearing represents a lasting symbol of dedication and excellence,” the general said. “More importantly, it demonstrates your commitment to your fellow soldiers.”
Army Sgt. 1st Class John J. Robak, non-commissioned officer in charge of medical maintenance with the 51st Medical Logistics Company and one of the competition’s graders offer some advice for future candidates.
“It’s all the little things that will get you,” Robak said. “You know the major task and you can get to the end result, but every other step along the way and not overlooking one of them is the hard part.”
The EFMB was approved for wear June 18, 1965. The badge is represented by an oxidized silver color with a horizontal stretcher, behind a caduceus -- the medical staff -- with a cross of the Geneva Convention at the junction of wings. The EFMB is not a prerequisite to earning the Combat Medic Badge. Medical soldiers earn the CMB by providing medical support to units engaged in active ground combat.