FORT SILL, Okla. (April 18, 2019) -- For decades Soldiers have been driven to prove that they are the best at what they do. Special skills badges are worn on the uniform as a symbol of honor, a symbol of the hard work and dedication needed to proudly display the earned badge.

For those in the medical field the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) is that coveted symbol. Those who wear the EFMB have proved that they are among the most technically and tactically proficient in regard to medical capabilities and readiness.

Over the last two weeks Reynolds Army Health Clinic (RAHC), in conjunction with Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence, has had the honor to host an EFMB competition for medical series Soldiers from across the Army. RAHC holds the distinction as the first clinic to host the EFMB competition.

"For Army medicine as a whole, a small clinic hosting EFMB is very important because it is an opportunity to improve readiness," said Col. Enrique Ortiz, RAHC commander. "EFMB is all about excellence and competence in your profession. If Reynolds, as a small clinic, can deliver an opportunity for 50 to 75 medical professionals to earn this distinguished badge, it will be a great contribution in readiness to the force."

As a small clinic, Reynolds lacks some of the necessary equipment and personnel needed to make the EFMB competition a success.

"Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence has truly been a partner in helping to make this happen. This is as much their EFMB as it is ours," continued Ortiz. "Every brigade on the installation is providing support with help and EFMB candidates coming from the 75th Field Artillery Brigade, the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, the 428th Field Artillery Brigade, and 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, and the 434th Field Artillery Brigade."

Along with the local support, Army Medical Command provided candidates and support personnel that stretch from coast to coast.

"It is a requirement that the cadre and testing personnel for the EFMB are previous badge holders," said RAHC Command Sgt. Maj. Dina Pang, who added Reynolds doesn't have enough EFMB holders to support all the requirements for the competition.

"Our fellow military treatment facilities, and the Fires community have really stepped up and provided us not only with candidates to compete for the badge, both current badge holders and cadre that have allowed us to meet the high standards of the EFMB and make this a huge success," she said.

The current requirements for the candidates hoping to earn the badge are a mix of standard Soldier skills, albeit performed at a much higher standard, and comprehensive medical treatment skills unique to the medical series MOS.

Prior to completion the candidates must qualify expert in basic marksmanship on their assigned weapon and must have current certification in their basic lifesaving or CPR. The first phase of testing began with the Army Physical Fitness Test. The candidates had to perform the standard three-event APFT that consists of push-ups, sit-ups, and a two-mile run. However, they had to achieve an 80 percent in all three categories to continue in the competition.

That afternoon the candidates took an 80-question written test specific to the medical skills. The next day consists of day and night land navigation where the candidates must find three out of four points on each course.

The remaining days the candidates must conduct the three combat testing lanes. All three lanes are a combination of Soldier and medic skills that are performed under a simulated combat environment. The requirements for some of the lanes are so difficult that it can take each candidate up to an hour to complete all the requirements to achieve a "go" at the station. The culminating event is the 12-mile road march that must be completed in under three hours.

"The pass rates for the EFMB are historically low because even though the standards are clearly defined, it crosses physical, mental, and emotional aspects, due to the complexity of providing battlefield care which is exceptionally high to begin with," Ortiz said. "The goal of earning an EFMB is for our Medics come out of this 100 percent confident that they are the very best there is. Treating fellow Soldiers on the battlefield is complex, and there is no room for error. The EFMB is so tough because the real-world application for these medical professionals is just as tough."

Having whittled the field down from what started as 58 candidates, April 10 at 5 a.m. the remaining seven candidates began their 12-mile road march from Camp Eagle. Three hours later as the morning sun was coming up over the wooden arch that was placed in the road for the finishing Soldiers to pass under, six Soldiers were the newest recipients of the Expert Field Medical Badge.

The graduation ceremony took place at 11 a.m. that day with Brig. Gen. Jeffery Johnson, Regional Health Command Central commanding general on hand to present the Soldiers with their hard-earned badges.