Road to the Expert Field Medical Badge
By Sgt. Benjamin NorthcuttApril 5, 2019
GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany--- Nine military medical professionals, one German soldier and eight U.S. Army Soldiers, proved their medical understanding and earned the Expert Field Medical Badge on April 2, 2019 at Camp Aachen.
249 candidates, comprised of U.S. Army Europe units and eight allied and partner nations, started their journey to earn the EFMB March 22, 2019. The EFMB, is a coveted badge for medical professionals, not only in the U.S. Army, but amongst allied and partner nations. The badge signifies to others that someone is proficient in warrior and medical tasks such as Tactical Combat Casualty Care.
Candidates who earned the EFMB were; Capt. Michael Mooney, Dental Activity Bavaria; Capt. Charles Schwarten, 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion; Capt. Corey Carroll, 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion; Capt. Mark Doherty, 212th Combat Support Hospital; Capt. Ricardo Carino, 212th Combat Support Hospital; Second Lt. Hannah Nehring, 1st Infantry Division; Lt. Alex Burghard, German Army Bavaria; Staff Sgt. Jose Lopez, 173rd Airborne Brigade; and Sgt. Joshua Meyer, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
New standards for the EFMB were emplaced across the Army as of March 1, 2019. Standard changes included unit's better prescreening candidates with testing guidelines and requiring each candidate to qualify expert with their assigned weapon to be eligible to compete. Additionally, the Army Physical Fitness Test has been added to earn the badge. Candidates must score an 80% in each event to meet the standard. Land Navigation was also updated alongside Tactical Combat Casualty Care tasks and a written test.
"A lot of candidates do not take into account how tough and taxing this testing is," said Master Sgt. Christian Cuyno, EFMB cadre from 30th Medical Brigade. "They have to ruck over two-miles to the testing site, run the testing lane at combat speed and complete tasks to standard, and then ruck back. It begins to take a toll on these candidates."
The first day of testing started with 249 candidates taking the APFT followed by a written exam. On day two only 133 candidates remained to test their land navigation skills to find at least three of four points during both a day and night portion.
"We had a good train up at my unit prior to coming to EFMB testing," Meyer said. "We went through standardization and I found a lot of good attack points to assist with night land navigation which got me in last year's competition."
One successful candidate had to overcome all the regular challenges, but also the challenge of a language barrier.
"The written test was a challenge because some words were unknown to me," Burghard said. "I had to guess on a few questions because I did not know the word and the cadre were not allowed to explain it once testing started."
The new standard has made an already tough to earn badge a little bit tougher as the success rate in Europe dropped 10% from the previous year. Testing conducted in 2018 had a 13% passing rate under the old standards and dropped down to a 3% passing rate during this first testing with the new standards. With additional tasks and tougher standards, the EFMB will continue to be a coveted badge as well as an identifier to others that the badge holder is a proficient, skilled, and competent medical professional.
"Set yourself 50 meter targets and focus on one task at a time during EFMB," Meyer said. "Also make sure that you have a good unit train up prior to coming out to EFMB. It makes it easier to focus on the task at hand instead of having to focus on studying for everything all the time."