By Staff Sgt. Ben HuttoNovember 17, 2017
WARRIOR BASE, South Korea -- After 22 days of familiarization and testing, 20 medics earned the Expert Field Medical Badge at Warrior Base, Korea, Nov. 17, 2017.
One hundred and thirty-nine medics, including seven officers from the Korean military and two KATUSAs, assigned the units across the Korean Peninsula participated in the 8th Army's "EFMB on the DMZ."
"This is one of the premier events for medical Soldiers to do medical training, "said Lt. Col. Alan G. Schilansky, the deputy division surgeon for the 2nd Infantry Division/RUCD. "The Expert Field Medical Badge is a point of pride. It is a measure of excellence and training. They are running and completing a variety of tasks that will ultimately show they have achieved a high state of readiness."
The EFMB event was started Army-wide in 1965 and was modeled after the Infantry Branch's Expert Infantryman's Badge. The competition tests the candidates' physical fitness, warrior skills (like map reading and weapons familiarity), medical knowledge and skill set and communication's skills. The testing is held Army wide, but the average pass rate among the candidates trying for the badge is only 14 percent.
"The Expert Field Medical Badge was designed to simulate battlefield conditions," said Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Camacho, 2ID/ROK-US Combined Division, Surgeon's Office. "We are actually stressing our medics in the worst situations they could see in combat so we can assess their readiness. It is a field scenario based test so candidates need to be able to negotiate not just the medical tasks, but be able to incorporate them with their responsibilities as a Soldier in a combat situation."
To ensure that the competitors met the standards of getting the badge, The Army Medical Center and School sent two evaluators from Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to validate the course.
"My role as a test control officer is to ensure host units running an EFMB are running their lanes to standard," said Cpt. Emily Burkhart, one of the two evaluators sent to validate the course at Warrior Base. "It is important that candidates are getting the same training wherever they go because this is a standardized badge that the AMC does hold authority over. My job is to ensure candidates are being held to the standards the school puts forth."
Candidates at Warrior Base were given two weeks of familiarization to ensure the intricate details required to earn the badge were reinforced and made clear before testing.
"The EFMB is called 'an attention to detail badge'," said Sgt. 1st Class Brandon White, the other validator from AMC. "There are a lot of subtasks to each task. There are many nuances that medics can miss doing the overall task. For example did they write a 'T' and the time on a casualty's forehead if they applied a tourniquet? Did they check the LZ (landing zone) for debris before calling in rescue helicopter? It's important because those little tasks save lives in the real world. It's about safety and ensuring the steps are done correctly so the next person in the process can do their job."
After four days of intense testing, 20 finalists completed a final 12-mile foot march within three hours.
"It was about twenty-seven degrees when we stepped off," said Pfc. Elijah Geesman, a medic assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade. "It was freezing cold. The air in my lungs was chilling…but what got me through it was the thought of not being the one to fail. That constant drive for success helped me push through. I didn't want to kick over the barrel and just quit."
In a brief ceremony after the event, the finalists were presented their badges by Col. Wendy, L. Harper, the commander of the 65th Medical Brigade located at Camp Yongson.
"Throughout it all, they have displayed the poise and resiliency of proven tested leaders," said Harper. "They are leaders that have improved our readiness here; less than ten kilometers from North Korea and will bring this readiness back to their units. Understand what the EFMB means. It means that every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine who faces the enemy or deploys in harm's way does so with the confidence of knowing that a medical professional stands with them ready to answer the call of 'Medic' and save their lives if called upon."