Fort Campbell Soldiers earn EFMB in record numbers
May 17, 2012
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (May 17, 2012) -- When an Expert Field Medical Badge is seen on the uniform of a Soldier, it is a strong indication of his commitment to training, technique and life-saving skills under pressure.
Established in 1965, the EFMB is a special skill award that recognizes exceptional performance by field medical personnel. It is only awarded to Soldiers who successfully complete combat tactical lane casualty care tasks, day and night land navigation, a written test and a 12-mile forced road march.
Beginning May 6, 148 Soldiers at Fort Campbell set out to earn the EFMB, taking the written exam and hitting the ground running at the combat tactical lanes set up at Camp Hinsch.
"The Army averages about a 17 percent graduation rate all the way around," said Maj. Michael Perkins of 86th Combat Support Hospital, OIC of EFMB training and testing. "Last fall, Fort Campbell had almost 28 percent, so it was the highest in the Army, I believe."
Before last fall, the EFMB competition had not been held at Fort Campbell for several years due to deployment schedules. This year's competition was timed to take place while there was enough manpower on post to accomplish the training and testing.
"The 101st has another round of deployments coming up, beginning in the summer," said Perkins. "As more units leave, there's less opportunity to have enough personnel to pull one of these off."
Surpassing the previous graduation number was the unanimous goal for the installation. That mission was officially accomplished May 11, as 47 Soldiers graduated the EFMB training course, giving Fort Campbell an overall completion rate of 34 percent -- the highest pass rate across the Army for the current fiscal year.
"It's been really fun, getting covered in dirt and having a good time" said Capt. Hannah Farrell of 86th CSH. "We've just been out here challenging ourselves, learning new things and getting to show how well we can learn and adapt to new situations."
Farrell is one of the few graduates who completed the written tests and field exercises without a single no-go, earning her badge with flying colors.
"There's always some pressure when it comes to females and males doing the same task," said Farrell. "You don't want to be the one who can't do something a guy can do. But I think it's all been fair out here."
Captain Mark Taylor, an optometrist with the 179th Medical Detachment, considered the training and testing to be a rigorous learning experience.
"I don't do these medic tasks on a daily basis," said Taylor. "I feel that it's important for any Army specialty to know these tasks because these are the skills that are going to save Soldiers' lives downrange. You never know when an IED is going to hit and you may have to do an IV on someone. It's good to learn all of this stuff."
There is a difference in the basic training received by officers and by other Soldiers, so Taylor feels that earning his EFMB has bridged some of that gap.
"Land nav and those types of skills were what I was looking forward to," said Taylor. "I just wanted to show that an officer can do those skills just like any other Soldier."
According to Perkins, tasks such as land navigation, particularly the night portion, are tough for most competitors, as many are not used to it. Other trip-ups typically included the written test (before re-testing became an option) and medical tasks on the combat lanes.
"With the medical tasks, there are so many steps that you have to do in order, and it's easy to forget a small one," said Perkins. "People forget one small thing and can get dropped."
Earning the EFMB, said Perkins, shows that a person put in the time, and went through the hard training to prove himself worthy.
"It definitely shows that they can pay attention to detail," said Perkins. "They can take something they're taught, learn it correctly and reproduce the exact same results when tested on it."
"It's an honor," said Ferrara. "It's a prestigious badge, so it means you can suck it up, deal with it and learn new things."