By Staff Sgt. Nicole HowellApril 18, 2014
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii-- The Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) is a peacetime badge equivalent to the Combat Medical Badge and is a prestigious honor for Soldiers in the medical services profession.
In order to earn this badge, participants have to successfully attend a one-week standardization phase, where the candidates complete a walkthrough of the course allowing them to ask questions of the staff, and one-week of testing. The testing phase includes three lanes consisting of multiple subtasks focusing on field medical care, proper radio communications, nuclear biological and chemical (NBC) knowledge, day and night land navigation, a written test, and a 12-mile ruck march.
Capt. Micah Sturgeon, the 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) Human Resources Operations Officer and a Health Services officer, decided he was ready for the challenge during the U.S. Army-Hawaii EFMB testing, Mar. 31-Apr. 11, 2014.
"This was not the first time I tried going through the EFMB testing," said Sturgeon. "I feel that this time was better for me, and the officers-in-charge (OIC) and noncommissioned-officers-in-charge (NCOIC) did a really good job of standardizing the training for success."
Due to scheduling conflicts, Sturgeon's platoon had to deal with the uncertainty of the schedule, which added to the anxiety and stress while completing the tests.
"I think starting off with a conflict and then bouncing back the next day shows our resiliency for overcoming adversity," said Sturgeon. "We had members in our platoon from all over the Pacific, including Alaska and Air Force personnel, and we came together and meshed very well."
One person who assisted Sturgeon through his EFMB journey, and helped rectify the scheduling conflict, was Master Sgt. Paul Eivins, an 18th MEDCOM (DS) G3 Plans NCO and a member of the EFMB testing board.
"Capt. Sturgeon, in my opinion, trained really hard last time," said Eivins." So this time, he only needed to fine tune the areas he needed to work on. I believe he was more than ready mentally, physically and spiritually."
Although many of the tasks were familiar to those in the medical field, if they did not have the opportunity to perform them often or train on them prior to the testing, they found themselves eliminated early in the testing.
"We [the graders] always try to present a happy face and try to encourage them," said Eivins. "All of us are EFMB holders; we know how tough it is. We know how hard it is, and when the chips are down, we know how easy it is to say forget it and walk off the lane. "
The EFMB is only held by an average of 16 percent of medical professionals in the military. The testing is intended to be both challenging and exhausting for the candidates, pushing them to their limit.
"It is heart wrenching to see people make it to the ruck march, but not make it over the finish line," said Eivins. "But on the professional side, you need to uphold the standards."
After 2 hours and 44 minutes, Sturgeon crossed the finish line and earned the coveted EFMB badge.
"It was exciting," said Sturgeon. "You had people on the sidelines cheering for you, but at the same time you are just glad it's done. Overall, it was just a great experience. Definitely one of those moments I will never forget."