LANDSTUHL, Germany -- On August 5, just minutes before sunrise, three Soldiers arrived at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center's physical training field to endure three days of tests, pitting them against one another in an effort to be named LRMC's 2019 Best Medic.
The competition, held at a local level by most Active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Army units, is formally known as the Command Sergeant Major Jack L. Clark, Jr. Best Medic Competition and culminates with Soldiers representing their respective units at an Army-wide event.
"We hold the Best Medic competition to select the best medics to compete (at higher levels), which tests Soldiers' tactical and medical skills," said Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Dowers, noncommissioned officer in charge of this year's LRMC competition. "To compete shows that you're tactically and technically proficient in your craft as an Army Medic and would be able to save Soldiers on the battlefield no matter the situation."
During the 72-hour period, the Soldiers were tested in a series of events including the Army Combat Fitness Test, a stress shoot, various road marches, day and night land navigation, litter obstacle course, combat testing lanes, written tests and prolonged field care.
For Staff Sgt. Joseph Coffey, the competition proved to be a challenge as he struggled with portions of the competition he normally excelled at.
"I'm beat up, tired and I guess that's what I expected, it was fun," said Coffey, a native of Marion, Indiana. "Hopefully it motivates some Soldiers to get out there, get outside the box and go do something that's fun and exciting. You're going to get tired, you're going to get beat up a little bit, but in the end it's going to be worth it."
Staff Sgt. Paul Orndoff, noncommissioned officer in charge at LRMC's Gastroenterology Clinic, echoed Coffey's thoughts about the competition and the effects the competition may have at a military treatment facility.
"Being able to compete is a great opportunity and shows younger Soldiers they still have the opportunity as they go through their career to try new things. It's not just for the young, and anybody can at least attempt it," said Orndoff, a Norwalk, Ohio native. "I think in an organization like this where it is more work driven, (Soldiers) get behind the desk, they don't see themselves getting out (in the field). I want to show them that I do my duties but I'm still able to get out there."
Although the competition weighs heavily on physical readiness, the combat testing lane assessed the Soldiers' knack in traditional soldiering skills such as movement under fire, nine-line medical evacuation request, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) response and first responder procedures.
"To actually get out there and get to do Army skills, it's actually quite fun and I enjoy it," said Orndoff. "Getting to perform patient care, even if it's on a mannequin, brings me back down to the roots of what I joined the Army for."
"The competition gives you [an] appreciation for basic combat medic skills," said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Moore, LRMC Troop Command's noncommissioned officer in charge and Asheville, North Carolina native. "It's a good opportunity to train for the actual operational environment."
Following the nearly week-long competition, Orndoff was recognized as LRMC's Best Medic by the hospital command team, Col. Michael Weber, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thurman Reynolds, during an awards ceremony, Aug. 9. Orndoff, Moore and Coffey will all go on to compete at Regional Health Command Europe's Best Medic competition later this month.
"I hope they got an idea of what the next couple of competitions may present to them and have a better understanding of where they may need to improve to compete at the next one," said Dowers. "But, overall I hope they had fun and an enjoyable experience."