Combat Medic Challenge: Soldier Medics tested physically, mentally during Expert Field Medical Compe
October 30, 2009
By Jerry Harben
- "Best Medics in the Army" compete during the Expert Field Medical Competition at Camp Bullis.
Two Soldiers from the Medical Department Activity in Heidelberg, Germany, claimed the title of "Best Medics in the Army" during the Expert Field Medical Competition at Camp Bullis, Oct. 19-23.
Staff Sgt. Bjoern J. Pietrzyk, a healthcare specialist and Sgt. Charles Smith, a radiology specialist earned best scores in the combat medic lanes and road march, and were the overall winners for the competition. Pietrzyk and Smith represented the Europe Regional Medical Command in the event.
"He's my battle buddy and my roommate," Smith said of Pietrzyk. "He taught me just about everything I know. We're both getting ready to leave Germany, and when I heard about this contest, I said here's one more thing we have to do before we leave."
"Beat that chest, you have absolutely earned it," proclaimed Maj. Gen. Russell J. Czerw, commander of the Army Medical Department Center and School, while congratulating the winners after 72 continuous hours of intense competition.
Thirteen two-person teams were chosen by divisions, brigades, regional medical commands and other large medical organizations for the contest. Competition began Tuesday with a physical fitness test, obstacle course, record firing with the M9 pistol and M16A2 rifle and a 100-question written test of medical knowledge.
On Wednesday came land navigation by day and night (and in the rain) and the Top Warrior Stakes, where participants were tested on CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosives) procedures, camouflage, placing a claymore mine and inspecting a vehicle at a checkpoint.
That night they faced the first combat medical lane, where, in a simulated combat environment, they assembled an M9 pistol, reacted to enemy fire and unexploded ordnance, used protective masks, treated casualties with head, eye, abdominal and leg injuries, evacuated a casualty from a vehicle, established a helicopter landing zone, and used a radio to submit an explosive hazard report and a request for medical evacuation.
Thursday were more combat medical lanes, where competitors treated casualties with severe bleeding, performed a needle chest compressions and inserted breathing tubes, carried casualties to safety and loaded ambulances for evacuation.
Finally, in the wee hours of Friday morning the event culminated with a 16-mile road march carrying full ruck sacks, weapons and protective masks.
"The road march definitely was the part that was the toughest. It was very physically challenging. There were great competitors here that made everyone raise their game to a higher level," said Smith.
"It was intense," added Pietrzyk. "The combat lanes were the best part. It was very challenging."
The first Expert Field Medical Competition was held between two-person teams of medics in 1994. The event then evolved into individual competition, but returned to the team concept this year.
"Originally this competition was for two-person teams. We decided to go back to that concept this year. Medics don't operate by themselves. It's good for morale for them to help each other out," said Sgt. 1st Class George Koranyi, an operations sergeant from the Army Medical Department Center and School who supervised the event.
"The objective of the event is to test them physically and mentally, push them to their limits. It tests stamina as well as tactical and technical proficiency, under stress in simulated battlefield conditions," said Maj. Jim H. Hall, officer in charge of the event.
"Each and every one of you is a winner," said Czerw. "I want to thank your units for allowing you the opportunity to compete."
The competitors included:
Capt. Jason W. Hughes and Chief Warrant Officer Jorge Maganacortez from the 551st Medical Company (Logistics) at Fort Lewis, Wash. (Best score in the Top Warrior Stakes.)
Sgt. John D. Hudgins and Capt. Brett S. Allmond from Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point, N.Y.
Sgt. 1st Class Marvin W. Gash and 1st Lt. Stephen P. Krutko from B Company, 21st Combat Support Hospital at Fort Hood, Texas.
1st Lt. Zachary J. Kufahl and Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hall from Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii. (Best score on the obstacle course.)
Sgt. 1st Class Bryce A. Mikalik from Lawrence Joel Army Health Clinic at Fort McPherson, Ga., and Maj. John L. Arment from Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning, Ga.
Sgt. Zachary C. Schewe from Yuma Proving Ground Health Clinic, Ariz., and Sgt. Thomas E. Blaine from Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Wash. (Best score on marksmanship.)
Staff Sgt. Timothy J. Kline and Spec. Kenneth A. Simmons from Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas.
Sgt. Scott D. Coleman and Staff Sgt. Daniel S. Lopez from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st-327th Infantry, Fort Campbell, Ky. (Best score on the written test.)
Sgt. Stephanie R. Thompson from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion and Sgt. James P. Philibert from 1st-9th Cavalry at Fort Hood, Texas.
Spec. Ty L. Gregg and Sgt. Johnny Gonzales from 2nd-325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Staff Sgt. Bjoern Pietrzyk and Sgt. Charles Smith from Heidelberg, Germany, Medical Department Activity. (Best score on the combat medic lanes and road march, overall winners.)
Staff Sgt. Benjamin D. Buford and Sgt. 1st Class Ricardo Gutierrez from the Army Medical Department Center and School. (Best score on the physical fitness test.)
Sgt. Timothy D. Whitlock and Sgt. Andrew L. Dishman from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd-15th Infantry, Fort Stewart, Ga. (Best score in land navigation.)