The 2018 Eighth Army Best Medic Competition challenged the mental and physical toughness of seven, two-person medical specialist teams from across the Korean Peninsula as they faced a series of obstacles and medical trauma-based test lanes at Camp Casey July 11-13.
Competitors were evaluated during the 72-hour event as they applied combat lifesaving skills in various realistic day and night, high-intensity scenarios.
These scenarios included treat a casualty in the CS (tear gas) gas chamber, carry a litter, drag a weighted SKEDCO rescue system, low crawl uphill, undertake a stress-shoot range, pass a swim lane, negotiate an obstacle course, carry teammates more than 50 meters (simulating moving a casualty to safety), and a 4-mile up-hill march with weighted vests.
The top performer and winning team in the 2018 Eighth Army Best Medic Competition were both recognized during an award ceremony at the Camp Casey Theater July 13.
Capt. Jacob A. Orrino, a 121st Combat Support Hospital nurse from Anaconda, Montana prevailed as the competion's top performer.
"I was reasonably surprised by the Top Performer award," said Orrino. "I have to give credit to my teammate, Sgt. William T. Barton, for all his hard work, and to the rest of the competitors who pushed me to perform at my best," he said.
Orrino attributed competition success to putting in the additional hours of training.
"As Soldiers, we need to train to excel past the demands of war," said Orrino. "Some of us put in a little extra work when everybody else goes home and the results are showcased in events such as the Best Medic Competition," he added.
Orrino and teammate, Sgt. William T. Barton, a 121st CSH combat medic from San Antonio defeated the competition, winning the title of 2018 Eighth Army Best Medic.
"The first event was definitely harder than I expected," said Barton. "However, you come to appreciate things that challenge you beyond what you expect to accomplish."
Runner up honors and Army Achievement Medals were awarded to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division combat medics: Sgt. Tylery S. Griger of Hawkinsville, Georgia and Sgt. Shion Nagasaka of Greer, South Carolina.
In his remarks, Command Sgt. Maj. Richard E. Merritt, Eighth Army command sergeant major, highlighted the importance of the Best Medic Competition in regards to mission readiness.
"This competition prepares you for the ultimate mission, which is that of combat," said Merritt. "What you are, as well as being 'docs,' combat medics, flight medics, and nurses, are Warriors; leading from the front on the battlefield, keeping our men and women alive," he added.
Merritt reemphasized the importance of training as well as the necessity of sharing combat medical skills with subordinates.
"Pass these skills on and remember what you are really doing here today and what this competition is really about," said Merritt. "Training and preparing for combat is necessary for you and those Soldiers you will lead to prepare them for the worst day of their life," he continued.
Guest speaker, U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj. Anthony A. Spadaro, Pacific Command senior enlisted leader, emphasized how combat medics added to the effectiveness of our fighting force.
"They're combat multipliers because when I hear these types of individual efforts, I look at the collective efforts because how many times have we gone up to someone who is supposed to be a practitioner of these great arts for counsel?" asked Spadaro. "Be that man or woman that a Soldier is going to have the confidence to go up to and say 'doc, I need help,' and be able to translate that 'I need help' into something practiceable, something workable, or something acheiveable," he added.
Merrit closed his remarks by mentioning his appreciation for being present for the ceremony, as well as emphasizing the importance of maintaining proficiency.
"It honors me to be here today, in the presence of you warriors, our leaders, our families and our Korean friends," said Merritt. "It takes action to be an expert [medic] and to maintain that [proficiency]," he concluded.
The top two teams from the 2018 Eighth Army Best Medic Competition will compete in the Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark, Jr. Army Best Medic Competition at Camp Bullis, Texas in September.