JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The weather is a cool 58 degrees, but for the Soldiers completing the rigorous 12-mile road march, the weather is the least of their worries. They have sweaty palms and carry heavy loads on their backs. The final event of a rigorous two-week challenge started at 5 a.m. The clock ticks as seconds pass and pressure builds for the candidates to complete the march on time to earn the esteemed Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB).
Second Lt. Wes Tomokane, is a health care administrative assistant, 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, who earned the coveted badge completing the 12-mile road march under three hours.
"Tomokane completed the most physically and mentally challenging competition that medical personnel can undergo. Earning the coveted EFMB is an accomplishment that few medics achieve and Tomokane has learned most of the material he has been tested on this week, by himself and by his section medics," said Staff Sgt. Ricky Bragg, medical operation noncommissioned officer, 17th FA Bde.
The course consists of 12 days of testing and obstacles. The first week of the course consists of training and preparation for the casualty trauma lanes that the candidates are tested on. Soldiers have to pass an Army Physical Fitness Test, qualify on their weapons systems and be Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation certified before even being considered as a candidate.
The testing phase is comprised of being evaluated on the successful completion of tactical combat casualty care and medical and casualty evacuation, which is the Army's standard for treating a casualty for injuries in a hasty manner and getting them further treatment once in a safe location.
In addition, the Soldiers were tested on how to successfully communicate over a radio; proficiency in warrior tasks and drills such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear hazards; reacting to enemy contact; day and night land navigation; and a written test. The culminating event is the 12-mile road march, which must to be completed in three hours or less.
"As a medical operations officer who is a non-medical person, it was a challenge to adjust and learn the material as I went, being able to take what I have experienced as a first time go and utilize that to help the brigade medics train, is something I look forward to doing," said Tomokane. "I did this for the Deep Steel Battalion and the Thunderbolt Brigade."
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 limits.
While the competition is faced by the candidates individually, it was with the help of Staff Sgt. William Sipe, medical section noncommissioned officer in charge, 17th FA Bde., and Staff Sgt. Rolando Duron, medical section noncommissioned officer, 17th FA Bde., along with the staff of Headquarters and Headquarter Battery,1-94th FAR, that Tomokane and Spc. Mark Yu, healthcare specialist, 17th FA Bde., were able to compete.
For more pictures of Lt. Wes Tomokane completing the Expert Field Medical Badge 12-mile road march, visit https://www.facebook.com/17thFieldArtilleryBrigade.