4th MEB readies for EFMB competition
May 9, 2014
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Medics, veterinary technicians and a physician assistant from the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade have spent the last few weeks training on various physical and mental tasks as they ready themselves for next month's 1st Infantry Division Expert Field Medical Badge competition.
For 12 aspiring Soldiers from 4th MEB, 1st Infantry Division, the upcoming competition at Fort Riley, Kan. gives them a chance to earn one the Army's most sought after recognitions.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Jason Gross, the 4th MEB's senior medic, the competition has a 13 percent pass rate Army-wide.
"They don't call it the coveted EFMB for no reason at all," said Gross, who is supervising the Brigade's train-up and will also serve as a cadre member at the 1st Inf. Div. competition.
Some of the 4th MEB Soldiers know all too well how difficult the competition can be after not making the cut last year, but are back at it again to try once more and flex their resiliency muscles.
Spc. Jacob Kotwica, 92nd Military Police Battalion, 4th MEB, competed last year, but was eliminated during the night land navigation portion.
"I feel more confident going out a second time," Kotwica said, thinking about the ultimate prize and what he hopes will be the pay-off for all his hard work. "It's going to feel good, people see that badge and they think a little different of you."
One of those Soldiers, Sgt. Ben Raymond, 94th Engineer Battalion, 4th MEB, already has what the Soldiers training want, the EFMB. This year, Raymond is instructing the aspiring badge earners and plans to serve as cadre at the 1st Inf. Div. competition.
"We've got good feelings about it this year," Raymond said while observing a group of troops run through training lanes where they had to treat multiple mock casualties. "They are overwhelmed, but if they do what the manual says, they'll be alright."
It's not just medical skills that challenge the competitors. The hopeful qualifiers are put to the test in events such as weapon breakdown, movement techniques, chemical lanes, navigation skills, a written test and a 12-mile footmarch to top it all off.
"It reinforces the reality that medics are Soldiers first," said Maj. Chris Seeber, a PA with the 5th Engineer Battalion, 4th MEB, aiming to earn the EFMB next month.
After completing a long morning "litter run" where the Soldiers practiced teamwork, upper body strength and stamina by carrying a 180-pound mannequin without letting it drop to the ground, a tired Sgt. Dillon Sostrom, 94th Eng. Bn., 4th MEB, said it was just one event throughout their train-up that has helped build camaraderie.
Despite the long training days and hours, Sostrom said the voluntary competition is something he's determined to conquer.
"It's that badge that sets you up above the rest," Sostrom said.
The upcoming competition will also be the first time the 4th MEB has sent vet techs to the competition, according to Gross.
Sgt. Megan Bates, a vet tech with the 5th Eng. Bn., said it's been great to have Soldiers that have been through the competition before training them to help emphasize what the testers will be focusing on.
"It's not about what you think you know, it's about what they want you to know," said Bates,
Who didn't hesitate to voice her opinion on what she wasn't looking forward to about the competition.
"That written test scares me to death," said Bates. "That's the part that fails out half the class."
The competitors will travel to Fort Riley this month for a training week and standardization, where cadre familiarizes the competitors with the different challenges.
The testing and competition is slated for June 4-9.