• Sgt. 1st Class Richard Gutierrez climbs down headfirst, as his teammate Master Sgt. Jimmy Keen follows close behind during the Expert Field Medical Competition obstacle course at Camp Bullis.

    Gutierrez and Keen obstacle course

    Sgt. 1st Class Richard Gutierrez climbs down headfirst, as his teammate Master Sgt. Jimmy Keen follows close behind during the Expert Field Medical Competition obstacle course at Camp Bullis.

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The 32nd Medical Brigade held a grueling three-day competition to select the two top medics to represent Fort Sam Houston in the All-Army Best Medic Competition at Camp Bullis Nov. 4 to 6.

Fourteen brigade Soldiers competed in the Expert Field Medical Competition from Oct. 4 to 6. Divided into two-man teams, the seven teams competed in various categories testing their physical, mental and leadership skills.

Sgt. 1st Class Richard Guiterrez and Master Sgt. Jimmy Keen were chosen to represent the brigade in the upcoming competition.

"This is our version of the best medic competition," said Col. William LaChance, commander, 32nd Medical Brigade. "These are all volunteers … they came forward to compete.

"The competition was patterned around the Expert Field Medical Badge. It contains some of the same skills, but the scenarios and standards vary," he added. "In some instances, it's even more challenging than the EFMB."

The first day began at 4:30 a.m. with a running event at Camp Bullis, then on to the range for weapons qualification.

With barely a moment to rest, the next event tested the Soldiers stamina and strength as they went through the obstacle course, consisting of 15 scenarios from climbing ropes, going through a log maze, performing balancing acts, climbing high towers, repelling, jumping over high walls and crawling under barb wire.

But the day didn't end here, as the competitors then headed to a classroom to take a one-hour written test.

The next day began at daybreak with a 10-mile night and day land navigation. After a 30-minute break between events, the next competition tested the competitors' medical and leadership skills.

The combat trauma lanes took place in a foreign-village scenario, with snipers lurking behind walls. The trauma lanes included performing life saving measures on a casualty while under sniper attack, preparing the casualty for evacuation by a Stryker ambulance and a surprise event, which included a scenario for a helicopter medical evacuation.

Medics performed medical techniques such as re-inserting a collapsed lung, tourniquet placements, and inserting an IV on their teammate.

"The combat medic lane was a good event, it really brought the real world, the casualty, the role playing," said Sgt. 1st Class Rafael Colon, Department of Combat Medic Training, who had never before loaded a casualty in a Stryker ambulance.

"We come to this competition thinking, yeah we know this, I got this, but sometimes we have to put our pride aside, and start digging into what's new out there, and expect not to know anything," Colon added.

Lachance said the event was intended not only to be physically and mentally challenging, but also puts demands on their leadership abilities, because they are provided with the equipment, the mission and scenario they need; it is up to them to decide how they are going to do it.

"They really have to think through these tasks," LaChance said.

The competition ended with a 12-mile road race march. The road march was more a race because points were awarded by where the Soldiers finished.

Gutierrez said the cardio, running and the strenuous events are his strong points since he does them every day. Gutierrez is the team captain for the FSH Running Team and he recently participated in the Army's 10-Miler run in Washington, D.C.

After crossing the finish line first in the 12-mile road race, Gutierrez said, "We needed this as a team to finish first. Competing against these other guys, who are the best medics, we needed those extra points, it was a strong finish."

"Gutierrez kept me motivated," Keen said. "He is a top Soldier, motivates me all the time, instead of letting me sit back as I get older and more advanced in rank. He motivates me to get out and do stuff with these young Soldiers."

Gutierrez and Keen will compete in November with teams from all the medical command units and regions from around the country. A team from Afghanistan and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are also scheduled to compete.

"We plan to have 33 teams. This competition will be at a level or exceeding the level of the best ranger competition," LaChance said.

Page last updated Thu October 20th, 2011 at 00:00