21st TSC Soldiers earn EFMB badge

by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Taylor
21st TSC Public Affairs

All seven 21st Theater Sustainment Command Soldiers who attended the Expert Field Medical Badge qualification course Sept. 10 to 21 earned the honor of wearing the Army special skill award at the testing, hosted by the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Grafenwöhr, Germany.

“The Expert Field Medical Badge is one of the toughest badges a Soldier can earn,” said Capt. Paolo Briones, force health protection officer for the 21st TSC. “With its highly coveted status, truly the ‘cream of the crop’ are the ones who earn the right to wear the EFMB.” 

More than 250 U.S. Army Europe medics, including 18 multi-national participants from Slovenia, U.K., Germany, Estonia and Italy,
competed in the 11-day challenge.

The EFMB is a U.S. Army decoration first created on June 18, 1965. This badge is the non-combat equivalent of the Combat Medical Badge and is awarded to foreign and U.S. military medics who successfully complete a set of qualification tests, including both

written and simulated combat environment performance.
“The hardest part for me, and I think everyone who participated as well, was the medical lanes,” said Spc. Natallia Prudnikava, a medic with the 615th Military Police company, 18th Military Police Brigade. “I think it’s because all the medical tasks have lots of details that we had to perform step-by-step in sequence in order to get a go on that task, and there were 14 tasks all in one lane.
“I think it was a really good experience and I feel I accomplished a lot and also learned a lot while trying to obtain this badge,” Prudnikava continued.

To qualify for EFMB testing, multinational participants must meet U.S. Army weapons qualification standards and pass an Army physical fitness
test. During EFMB testing, all participants demonstrate their proficiency at tactical combat casualty care and standard and non-standard evacuation operations.
They also perform U.S. Army warrior, communications and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield explosives tasks, perform day and night land navigation, and complete a 12-mile road march.    

Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, USAREUR commanding general, observed some of the lane testing and described the difficulty of changes that have been made to the competition and the diversity among the Soldiers participating.

“Over the last couple years, we have steadily improved the requirements for EFMB, and the medical community has changed some of the testing — it’s a whole lot harder than it’s ever been before,” Hertling said. “You’re not only seeing Germans, Slovenians, Poles and Estonians, but you’re also seeing some corpsmen from the Navy, as well as a couple of Air Force guys.”

The very badge these medics strive so hard for contains a depiction of a stretcher placed horizontally behind a caduceus (staff used as an emblem of the medical profession and as the insignia of the U.S. Army Medical Corps) with a cross of the Geneva Convention at the junction of the wings. “This year, seven more of our finest 21st TSC Soldiers proudly wear this on their chest,” Briones said.