News: Soldiers vie for medical field’s highest honor
Story by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Soldiers scrambled through mud, charged over walls, and inspected, treated and transported the wounded, all in pursuit of the Expert Field Medical Badge.
More than 200 soldiers came to Fort Carson, from as far away as Alaska, for Expert Field Medical Badge testing, which the 4th Infantry Division hosted at the Wilderness Road Training Complex from July 30 to Aug. 24.
The candidates arrived at WRTC, Aug. 12, to in-process and begin EMFB standardization, where they were shown the correct way to perform all the tasks they would be graded on, and remained there until graduation.
The testing portion began Aug. 19, with a written test and night land navigation, followed over the next four days by common task lanes and day land navigation, and concluded Aug. 24, with the 12-mile foot march, followed by the graduation ceremony.
The prestige associated with the badge brings many candidates back for multiple attempts to earn it.
"It took me three times to earn my EFMB badge," said Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Hays, emergency room noncommissioned officer, Medical and Dental Activity Alaska, Bassett Army Community Hospital, Fort Wainwright, Alaska. “Attention to detail and the communications portion got me.”
Hays also felt attention to detail was the greatest obstacle for the candidates going through this EFMB as well. “The most challenging part is doing the mannequin, doing the assessments, doing the treatments; there’s so many attention to detail tasks in the lanes. It’s different sitting here [in the staging area], from when you get there, you’ve got patients yelling at you, you get flustered.”
The difficulty of earning an EFMB badge can be measured by numbers. Out of the 224 candidates who began the EFMB, only 14 graduated. Hays had some motivational words for those whom didn’t make it.
“Don’t quit, keep trying,” said Hays. “This is your first time; you’ve got an idea of what it’s like now. You can’t take it personal.”
That sentiment was echoed by Pfc. Kyle Kenter, healthcare specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., and the first Soldier to complete the 12-mile foot march, at two hours, 32 minutes.
“If it’s something you really want, keep trying. It [EFMB] is a stressful event; don’t get discouraged when you get there.”
The road to victory may have been long, but the soldiers who completed the EFMB enjoyed their success.
“It’s definitely something to be proud of,” said Kenter. “It’s something I never thought I’d have the chance to do.”
Kenter attributes his strong finish to his determination: “I never quit, I never give up, and I try to give a 110 percent in whatever I do.”
Sgt. Nagiv Samad, senior line healthcare specialist and Kenter’s immediate superviser, HHC, 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Regt., had no doubts about his soldier's success. “I knew he was going to come across first; he’s the epitome of motivation.
“He’s one of the best soldiers I ever had, I couldn’t ask for a better guy.”
During the EFMB presentation ceremony, Maj. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, commanding general, Western Regional Medical Command, and senior market executive for TRICARE Puget Sound, took a moment to share his thoughts about the importance of the badge.
“This ceremony is not only the culmination of what has obviously been a very difficult and challenging competition, but it also represents a significant milestone in the military careers of these medics who are receiving the coveted EFMB today.
“The EFMB symbolizes that Army heritage; it symbolizes the best of Army medicine; it’s a symbol for excellence in combat medical skills.”