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    Fort Hood medics demonstrate toughness, earn excellence

    Fort Hood medics demonstrate toughness, earn excellence

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Leah Kilpatrick | Spc. Jasmine Jones, a medic with 1st Medical Brigade, runs the final stretch of the...... read more read more

    FORT HOOD, Texas – It was 4:30 a.m. Even the sun was still tucked away when 65 weary bodies began a grueling trek of 12 miles or 19.3 kilometers, or 63,360 feet, or 760,320 inches – tough no matter how you measure it.

    It was the final leg of an 11-day journey – a journey on which many embark and few achieve – the Expert Field Medical Badge.

    This crucible of combat related medical and Soldier skills, hosted by the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division began with 244 candidates, all set to prove themselves and earn the honor of wearing the badge.

    “The EFMB is a coveted badge,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Dame, noncommissioned officer in charge of combat testing lane three. “It’s for the medics to be able to come out and really test their skills, their mettle, their worth, and how much they want the badge. It basically encompasses not just medical skills, but Soldier skills – land navigation, map reading, road march and radio skills, being able to navigate an obstacle course – and it really tests all the skills that a medic would know in the field to be able to tactically and medically treat and move patients.”

    The challenge consists of two, five-day phases, the standardization phase and the validation phase.

    “Across the board, usually we have on average about 300 candidates,” Dame said. “Probably about 240, if not more, fail out. It’s a high failure rate because it’s attention to detail.”

    During standardization, the candidates are trained by qualified cadre on the tasks they will have to execute to achieve the badge. Each task is demonstrated meticulously in accordance with the performance measures itemized in Army Regulation 350-10.

    It is during this phase that cadre will often point out minute details that can result in a no-go, something as seemingly minor as forgetting a pair of gloves can make the difference between earning the badge and going home empty chested.

    “My biggest fear would probably be habits, old habits,” said Sgt. Sergio Carlos, an EFMB candidate and medic with 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Armored Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. “You got taught a certain way at AIT [Advanced Individual Training], but then you kind of form you own habits and you take some things out, put some new things in, and you make it to where it’s better for you. Then you come here and you kind of have to dump that and just learn everything from square one.”

    During standardization, the candidates worked together to help each other memorize information, properly execute procedures and motivate each other. They even participated in study halls after all the training concluded for the day.

    “Basically, as I’m looking through and seeing everybody competing and training for this, I’m looking at others who are picking things up that I may be missing, so that I can ask them for help which will further help me earn the badge myself,” said Sgt. Anthony Gaither, an EFMB candidate and medic with 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd ABCT, 1st Cav. Div.

    Even with the utmost preparation and training, the EFMB is still an intimidating challenge, said Gaither emphatically.

    “Absolutely everything, because any tiny little thing can get me a no-go and get me kicked out of the EFMB, so I have my eyes on absolutely everything.”

    Gaither and Carlos had the added pressure of recently earning the opportunity to represent the First Team in the Best Medic competition in San Antonio next month. They have been training diligently for that competition and used the EFMB as additional training, with the potential bonus of garnering the prized badge.

    When standardization was complete, the candidates enjoyed a daylong break before the validation phase began. Some candidates chose to get some much needed rest, but most used this time to further hone their skills and knowledge for the test that was to come.

    Then the time came for the real work to begin. The candidates launched into five days of validation, of combat training lanes attempting to complete the tasks they had been taught with very little room for error, with very little sleep, while physically and mentally exhausted.

    And this is where the majority of the candidates fell out of contention. 244 went in. 65 came out.

    And then those remaining 65 candidates capped it all off with a little stroll. A 12-mile ruck march – with 35 pound ruck sacks – in under three hours. 49 made it.

    “I feel ecstatic, emotional, overwhelmed,” said Spc. Jasmine Jones, a medic and EFMB awardee with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Medical Brigade. “This is the first time I’ve ever gone out for it. I just had a kid nine months ago, so being physically fit and mentally prepared, it’s been great that I’ve been able to achieve this. This whole time it’s been a fight. Nothing was easy, so it’s pretty wonderful.”

    Toughness prevailed, but so did perseverance.

    “I needed the badge,” said Sgt. Douglas Koroso from 21st Combat Support Hospital, 1st Medical Brigade, who finally earned the badge on his sixth attempt. “I had to get it. It’s hard but I keep on trying. Keep motivated. Keep moving.”

    And for a senior NCO who got to train troops and watch them excel and succeed and earn the badge, it’s a testament to the training and mentorship he provided.

    “To me, it’s passing on the torch to these younger and newer Soldiers,” said Dame, a 24-year Army veteran. “My career is going to be coming in the next two years to a close, and I think it’s an opportunity for me to pass on the skills and the knowledge to my graders, who are mostly in the grades of E-5 and E-6. It’s also an opportunity to teach, coach, and mentor these younger troops that are coming out. To know that I contributed, it’s an amazing feeling. As a noncommissioned officer, it’s our job to train and get our Soldiers where they need to be and have a direct impact. As an NCO, that’s what we strive for.”



    Date Taken: 09.22.2015
    Date Posted: 09.22.2015 18:20
    Story ID: 176912
    Location: FORT HOOD, TX, US 

    Web Views: 508
    Downloads: 2