Soldiers compete for 'Best Medic' title
September 30, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers from throughout the Southern Regional Medical Command traveled to Fort Stewart last week to compete for the title of "Best Medic" in a competition hosted by Winn Army Community Hospital.
"The main purpose of this exercise is to select the best medic team to represent the Southern Regional Medical Command during the Army Best Medic Competition in November," said Capt. Donnie Appleman, officer in charge of the competition. "It also builds esprit-de-corp and allows medics to discuss best practices and lessons learned."
The four-day competition began Sept. 19 with a written test where the Soldiers demonstrated their understanding of both general military and medical knowledge. The following day they took an Army Physical Fitness Test then entered a simulated combat environment, where they used their emergency medicine technician skills to treat casualties.
"We had to determine the extent of their injuries, triage them and treat them according to standard," said Sgt. Ethan Mergentine from Fox Army Health Clinic, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
Sergeant Mergentine, who earned his expert field medical badge earlier this year, said the benefits of this competition far exceed bragging rights and trophies.
"It's not just a competition," he said. "Training like this is important because our Soldier readiness depends on it. The more training we do the better prepared we'll be on the battlefield."
Soldier readiness was further tested throughout the next few days as the Soldiers participated in day and night land navigation, qualified on M-16 assault rifles, and maneuvered through the Army Warrior Tasks course.
During the Army Warrior Tasks course, the competitors had to travel an unknown distance through the woods, while reacting to indirect fire and chemical gas exposure. They were also timed as they dissembled and reassembled a weapon and called-in a MEDEVAC flight for injured Soldiers. Following the AWT course, each team had to carry simulated wounded Soldiers weighing upwards of 170 pounds and transport them 950 meters from the battlefield to a field ambulance.
The competition culminated with a 12-mile foot march on day four. Each buddy team had to finish the course together within the three-hour time limit while carrying more than 30 pounds of gear and a weapon. However, Mother Nature intervened during the first mile as a passing thunderstorm moved through the area. The storm passed quickly, but the damage was done.
None of the teams finished within the time limit.
Although Sgt. Daniel Miracle, a physical therapist at Winn ACH, didn't finish within the time limit he did finish. He was the first person to cross the finish line and he said he had to out of pride. Following Sgt. Miracle, the first buddy team to finish was Sgt. 1st Class David Murray and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Pini from Fort Polk, LA's Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital.
In addition to finishing first as a complete team, Sergeant 1st Class Murray and Pini won the title of Best Medic team in the Southern Regional Medical Command. Two winners from the Third Infantry Division were also selected -- Staff Sgt. Timothy Mollett and Cpl. John Rushing, 2nd Bn., 69th Armor Regt., 3HBCT from Fort Benning, Ga.
All of the winners received a combat medic statue, a coin rack complete with a commander's coin for excellence from every military treatment facility within the Southern Regional Medical Command, a Blackhawk Aid Bag and an Army Commendation Medal.
Sergeant 1st Class Murray said he and Sgt. 1st Class Pini signed up for the Best Medic Competition because of the camaraderie and training opportunity it presented.
"We knew we had the knowledge," he said. "So we ran and we rucked and we trained hard. We studied a little bit, but we mostly trained to ensure we could complete the physical aspect of it. We didn't come here to play. We came here to win."
Sergeants 1st Class Murray and Pini will represent the Southern Regional Medical Command when they compete in the Army Best Medic Competition in November.