Medics prepare for upcoming expert field medical badge qualification
March 11, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - In an old building on Joint Base Lewis-McChord North, planners look over plastic army men, toy military vehicles and scale model landscapes pieced together to diagram proposed training areas that will test the skills of medical soldiers in coming weeks.
The Expert Field Medical Badge is earned by soldiers who can demonstrate a high degree of professional skill and proficiency as a field medic. It rewards those who can expertly perform in a simulated combat environment, both soldier common tasks and medical tasks.
An EFMB qualification will be held by JBLM, April 7-12. The candidates for EFMB are enlisted personnel with a primary military occupational specialty associated with the medical career management fields, to include Special Forces medics. They can also be officers with any U.S. Army Medical Department primary MOS.
"We do account for other services or allied candidates as long as they're serving in comparable medical positions," said Sgt. Maj. Michael Howard, support operations sergeant major, 56th Mobile Medical Battalion and primary coordinator of this EFMB qualifier.
"You will see Air Force and Navy equivalent personnel every once in a while come through our course."
Candidates must have a current Army Physical Fitness Test within six months and a current marksmanship qualification within one year.
"They also need a valid and current [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] card. That validates you to be a candidate," Howard said. "There's a limited number of slots, and we received over 300 packets, and will need to turn some of them away."
For this coming April's qualification on JBLM, the candidates are primarily from 7th Infantry Division, Madigan Healthcare System and I Corps.
Medical soldiers will also be traveling from Alaska, New York, Colorado and Kansas.
"I got mine in the desert of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., in the 90s," Howard said, recalling his experience.
"The expert field medical badge is a visual representation to your peers and the soldiers you support out there that you, the assigned medical expert out there, are truly an expert at your craft."
"It's a badge of credibility tremendously respected by the sappers, the infantrymen and other sustainers on the battlefield; they recognize that the EFMB really does set a standard of excellence for our enclosed community."
Candidates will be tested on tactical combat casualty care, the new field care craft.
"It is the skill-level one based requirement that all medical Soldiers are required to know. It is the first-responder's platform, that's why all medical MOSs can compete for the EFMB, whether you're a medic, a lab tech, you work in the pharmacy," Howard said.
During the week of testing, candidates also have five critical communications task skills, a test on 11 warrior skills and tests on evacuation tasks.
"The evacuation tasks are based on two things: non-standard evacuation which is the use of [HMMWVs] and M1078 Light Medium Tactical Vehicles; and then the two standard medical platforms, the M-1133 Stryker and the field litter ambulance, M997 Humvee," Howard said.
"Doing well in the EFMB means a soldier is a well-rounded medical professional in a field environment and has demonstrated excellence."
Candidates are assessed with day and night land navigation skills test and the 12-mile road march.
Participants must also take a 60-question written test and pass it with a 70 percent.
"The test covers a broad spectrum. Candidates will receive questions from preventive medicine, direct first aid, even field sanitation. They need to know how many litter casualties can be carried on specific vehicles. Overall it's a great
measurement of a medic's ability to show expert qualification."
The Army Medical Department publishes guidelines for running an EFMB qualification.
"The AMEDD center school sends a representative to each site geographically to oversee your assigned test board chair. In our case, the test board chair is a Major, field-grade med officer, who is an EFMB-qualified member."
April's EFMB qualifier will be on JBLM North, in the Warrior Forge area. Candidates and cadre will be here for the entire 12-day period of standardization and testing. The days are long, starting at 4 a.m. and lasting until up to 10 p.m.
"The best group I've seen had about 30 percent of the candidates qualify at the end," said Sgt. 1st Class Critt Peterson, operations, 56th MMB. "The average is usually less than 20% of any group of medics that attempt will see the end."
Each combat testing lane has a theme.
"Combat testing lane one is our TC3 [tactical combat casualty care] medical lane," Peterson said. "Each candidate will go through the lane one-on-one with a certified EFMB; it is the only lane that requires an EFMB-qualified grader."
Candidates go through three distinct phases of TC3 in addition to some warrior skills.
"There are 18 key medical tasks on this lane; successful completion of 11 out of the 14 major tasks is the pass rate," Howard said.
Medics must pass eight out of 11 of the additional warrior skills tasks.
"There is no re-test, no second effort, there is no retraining. They do go through standardization a week prior to testing and will see what they are expected to be able to do," Peterson said.
Combat testing lane two contains the bulk of the warrior skills testing areas. Weapon assembly, react to fire, react to unexploded ordnance. There is also chemical, biological, radioactive/nuclear and explosive analysis and testing.
The third lane is a mix of medical and warrior tasks. Medics will extract a casualty from a vehicle, and evacuate that casualty. There is a communication phase with radios. Candidates will establish communication, call in a nine-line medical evacuation request, and set up a landing zone.
The land navigation and road march are the last phases of the qualifier.
"Ultimately, anyone you see coming across the finish line in three hours on that last day is deemed expert field medical badge qualified," Howard said.
"It's 45 tasks with hundreds of sub-tasks. So when you see the EFMB, it's unique and there's not a lot of them running around in the Army these days. This is why it truly is an expert field medical badge."