JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington -- Eleven medical professionals earned the Expert Field Medical Badge Aug. 14 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The badge is designed to test Soldiers both physically and mentally during 144 hours of testing in a one-week period.
Seventy-four Soldiers began the competition on Aug. 8 with the Army Physical Fitness Test and a 60-question written test.
"The Expert Field Medical Badge is the highest proficiency for medical Soldiers, it represents your ability to survive in today's modern battlefield," said Command Sgt. Maj. Clark Charpentier, Regional Health Command-Pacific's command sergeant major."
Soldiers, ranging from 22 to 61 years old, attained the badge after passing all tasks in a competition that only awarded 14 percent of Soldiers who began on day one.
The Soldiers were tested on medical tasks, Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear tasks, land navigation -- both day and night -- weapons, communication tasks and their physical capabilities including the ability to load and transport casualties weighing more than 200 pounds.
"The skills, ability and knowledge that each and every one of you have demonstrated represents your readiness to save lives on the battlefield," Charpentier said.
The EFMB had several changes this year. One of the major changes was only medical professionals are allowed to compete for the badge. Last year the competition was open to all military occupational specialties.
The competition also added the Army Physical Fitness test and a requirement for candidates competing to have a weapons qualification score of expert before being entered in the competition.
"I trained for the last couple of months during my time, I reviewed my previous performance and had great support from people in my unit," said Col. Fernando Güereña, chief medical officer, Madigan Army Medical Center.
Güereña, a native of Baja California, Mexico, has competed for the badge five previous times and was the oldest and highest-ranking medical professional to attain the badge during this year's competition.
"This has been a great day," Güereña said. "I felt I was not a complete medic till I had the badge - it's the happiest day in my military career."
For the third consecutive year, the task to validate and set up for the EFMB fell onto the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62nd Medical Brigade. The battalion required more than 290 personnel to help set up, test and maintain accountability of the candidates.
"To the cadre; we could not conduct and continue the legacy of the expert field medic without all of you," Charpentier said.
The EFMB was designed as a special skill award for recognition of exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel and approved by the Department of the Army in 1965.
"The best past was all the people along the way," said Sgt. Justin Herman, combat medic, 56th Med. Bn. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here."