21st TSC Soldiers earn EFMB badge
October 5, 2012
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- All seven 21st Theater Sustainment Command Soldiers who attended the Expert Field Medical Badge qualification course earned the honor of wearing the Army special skill award at the testing hosted by the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Grafenwöhr, Germany, Sept. 10-21.
"The Expert Field Medical Badge is one of the toughest badges a Soldier can earn," said Capt. Paolo Briones, force health protection officer for the 21st TSC and a Manila, Philippines, native. "With its highly coveted status, truly the 'cream of the crop' are the ones who earn the right to wear the EFMB."
More than 250 U.S. Army Europe medics, including 18 multi-national participants from Slovenia, United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia and Italy competed in the 11-day challenge.
The EFMB is a U.S. Army decoration first created on June 18, 1965. This badge is the non-combat equivalent of the Combat Medical Badge and is awarded to foreign and U.S. military medics who successfully complete a set of qualification tests, including both written and simulated combat environment performance.
"The hardest part for me, and I think everyone who participated as well, was the medical lanes," said Spc. Natallia Prudnikava, a medic with the 615th Military Police company, 18th Military Police Brigade and a San Antonio native. "I think it's because all the medical task have lots of details that we had to perform step-by-step in sequence in order to get a go on that task, and there were 14 tasks all in one lane.
"I think it was a really good experience and I feel I accomplished a lot and also learned a lot while trying to obtain this badge," said Prudnikava.
To qualify for EFMB testing, multi-national participants must meet U.S. Army weapons qualification standards and pass an Army Physical Fitness Test. During EFMB testing, all participants demonstrate their proficiency at tactical combat casualty care and standard and non-standard evacuation operations.
They also perform U.S. Army warrior, communications and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield explosives tasks, perform day and night land navigation, and complete a 12-mile road march.
Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, commanding general, USAREUR, observed some of the lane testing and described the difficulty of changes that have been made to the competition and the diversity among the Soldiers participating.
"Over the last couple years we have steadily improved the requirements for EFMB, and the medical community has changed some of the testing - it's a whole lot harder than it's ever been before," Hertling said. "You're not only seeing Germans, Slovenians, Poles and Estonians, but you're also seeing some corpsmen from the Navy, as well as a couple of Air Force guys."
The very badge these medics strive so hard for contains a depiction of a stretcher placed horizontally behind a caduceus (staff used as an emblem of the medical profession and as the insignia of the U.S. Army Medical Corps) with a cross of the Geneva Convention at the junction of the wings.
"This year, seven more of our finest 21st TSC Soldiers proudly wear this on their chest," said Briones.