GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- More than 200 participants from across the U.S. military, as well as Soldiers from NATO countries arrived at the 7th Army Training Command's (7ATC) Camp Algiers at the Grafenwoehr Training Area (GTA) on 20 March to test their skills and endurance and earn the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB).
This year's EFMB testing is hosted by the 212th Combat Support Hospital, 30th Medical Brigade at the 7ATC GTA, the U.S. Army's premier training area in Europe and is ideally postured to provide state-of-the-art training - such as EFMB events and testing - as well as build partner capacity for current or future operations.
The Expert Field Medical Badge is awarded to military personnel who complete a variety of physical, mental and written tests that determine their ability to quickly, accurately and effectively perform complex life-saving medical tasks while in a variety of hostile environments and situations. The EFMB is considered the medical equivalent of the Expert Infantryman's Badge, but is statistically harder to earn than the EIB.
EFMB pre-orientation and candidate's individual three-day testing took place at the GTA from 20 through 30 March, 2017. The pass rate for the coveted badge is traditionally less than 18 percent. Qualification for the badge is considered a grueling experience by those who have earned it and the majority of participants do not make it to the final round.
Though it is an Army decoration, members of other services are often invited to participate in EFMB qualifications. In Europe, qualification sometimes includes foreign medical personnel. Non-U.S. participants who strive for the EFMB receive training not normally a part of their country's military training and each NATO candidate who earns the badge leaves as a subject matter expert available to their country's military to help prepare the next wave of EFMB participants for success.
Candidates are assessed and must pass through a gauntlet of field tests, all performed under simulated battlefield conditions, including weapons and communications equipment qualifications, a variety of obstacle courses and scenarios where they must demonstrate skill and speed in treating an array of medical wounds from applying CPR or a standard tourniquet to diagnosing and treating sophisticated injuries and the proper removal and coordinated evacuation of all wounded.
Participants must also take a 60-question written test covering a wide array of questions concerning preventive medicine, direct first aid, field sanitation, and other specific medical knowledge required of an expert in field medicine. Candidates also need to know non-medical related technical figures and procedures such as how many litter casualties can be carried on a given military vehicle.
The testing traditionally begins with both day and night land navigation skills tests and culminates with a 12-mile road march, complete with kit, weapon and pack.
"The EFMB comes down to knowing how to save lives on the battlefield. It's about Soldier readiness, personal fortitude, and pushing yourself to do your very best when you are stressed and exhausted." said Hohenfels Army Clinic Commander Stacy Holman, who had three Soldiers representing the clinic vying for the EFMB, Capt. Joseph Ahlborn, 1stt Lt. James Hutchinson and Sgt. Ignatius Andoh.
"It's incredibly important that our Soldiers participate and push themselves to these limits; it's how we train to fight." Holman added. "The EFMB is a very tough badge to earn, and we're rooting for all the candidates out there participating."
ABOUT THE EFMB
Candidates must have a current Army Physical Fitness Test within six months and a current marksmanship qualification within one year.
Candidates for the EFMB are for the most part 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.
The EFMB rates directly below the Combat Medical Badge, earned for medical support to a ground unit engaged in combat, and are considered the medical equivalent of the Expert Infantryman Badge. The badge is oxidized silver consisting of a stretcher, placed horizontally, behind a caduceus with a cross of the Geneva Convention at the junction of the wings.
Establishment of an Expert Field Medical Badge as a Department of the Army special skill award for recognition of exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel came about during the Vietnam War, approved on 8 December 1965.
To learn more about the people and facilities of the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity Bavaria (BMEDDAC) and the clinics they support in Ansbach, Grafenwoehr, Hohenfels, Stuttgart and Vilseck in Germany, and in Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania, visit the BMEDDAC website at http://rhce.amedd.army.mil/bavaria