GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Medics, nurses and doctors from the spectrum of medical professions have come together to seek the Expert Field Medical Badge Sept. 17-28, 2017 at Camp Aachen.
One-hundred seventy-four Soldiers are vying for the badge. Seventeen of those 174 are international candidates from Austria, Canada, The Czech Republic, Kosovo, Lithuania, and Slovenia. The badge represents the standard for soldiers performing combat casualty care on the modern battlefield.
"This badge Is meant to promote confidence and provide tangible recognition of personnel who can expertly perform common Soldier tasks and apply the principles of basic medical care in a field environment," said Lt. Col. Paul Graves, Commander 421st Multifunctional Medial Battalion. "You need to have a well-rounded medical Soldier that can use a radio and can ruck; they have to know what they are doing with various medical systems. It is way more than just first aid."
The candidates chosen to go forward and to earn the EFMB are already considered proficient by their commands. Maj. Brian Mason, Executive Officer, 421st MMB, reassured the candidates that they have what it takes to be successful. Mason addressed the candidates during the competition's opening ceremony.
"You have already taken the first step to earning the coveted badge by proving you are medical experts within your individual commands" he said. "The cadre across from you have put a tremendous amount of work into creating an environment for you to succeed."
Prior to the event beginning, work towards the testing candidates is significant. Testing lanes have to be built according to EFMB's rigorous standards. Lanes must be consistent across different test sites to ensure every candidate is tested to standard. Every lane is systematically validated by an official from San Antonio and a test board is put together to ensure EFMB Standards are maintained. Additionally Soldiers will go through five days of learning the standard and then five days of rigorous testing.
Ultimately, very few may walk away with the badge. However, Soldiers at EFMB work optimistically towards the goal of wearing the badge on their uniform. Only 18 percent of candidates passed the test during Fiscal Year 2016 according to U.S. Army Medical Department.
"I'm excited because for some it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend EFMB and to be able to attend here in Germany," said Spc. Darren Flanner, Combat Medic, 173rd Airborne Brigade. "I hope to become part of a very small community of combat medics that are both airborne and EFMB qualified."
Regardless of the number of participants that walk away with the EFMB, all the soldiers will receive substantial quality training to take back to their units contributing to the medical readiness of the U.S. Army in Europe.