Medics train, compete to sharpen field skills

Thomas Warner
LRMC Public Affairs

Field medical personnel trained and competed this week at the Joint Multinational Training Center in Grafenwöhr to earn the prestigious Expert Field Medical Badge which symbolizes excellent performance in caring for injured warfighters.

The EFMB is a special skill award for the recognition of exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel. Servicemembers of Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force began arriving April 30 to train for the competition that started May 7.

The awards presentation for the coveted badge is Saturday.  Out of the 300 servicemembers entering the training program, 267 made it to the actual competition.

“We expect only about eight percent of the participants here to wind up earning the badge,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Williams, NCOIC of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Intensive Care Unit, and one of roughly 200 people helping staff the competition.  That low number expected to earn the badge can be attributed to a number of factors, not the least of which is an extensive written exam that precedes the difficult manual exercises.
Candidates arrived two weeks ago for train-up and familiarization prior to a process that culminates with today’s announcement of badge recipients. The candidates were observed in numerous areas of training including day and night land navigation, tactical combat casualty care, evacuation procedures, litter obstacle tactics, and general warrior/warfighting skills.

This year’s EFMB competition was different than previous periods, with Fort Sam Houston in Texas having reformulated the evaluation process. Tactical combat casualty care and nearly all the categories have been upgraded and modernized according to what current downrange servicemembers are seeing with operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

“We have to train Soldiers and that’s the main reason I don’t mind being away from my duties at the Landstuhl ICU,” Staff Sgt.Williams said. “Personnel from various units around USAREUR were here competing as well as evaluating. The training is specific to what they would see if they were deployed.”

Survival tactics have been practiced and navigation circumstances are currently some of the toughest to traverse since the badge was created in 1965. Competitors endured a 12-mile march prior to today’s closing ceremony and award presentations.

“It’s been a high attrition rate and people have been knocked out a various stages but everyone who’s been here has learned something,” Sgt. 1st Class Michael Britain, an evaluator from LRMC, said. “Trying to earn the badge involves operating under fire and basically under a lot of duress.

“Different bases train their people differently but here, everyone has been subject to the same conditions.”