Army medical personnel from the 30th Medical Brigade and Regional Health Command Europe squared off against their peers to earn the title of Best Medic Oct. 30 at Sembach Kaserne, Germany.
When the dust settled, four competitors were selected to compete in the 2022 Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. U.S. Army Best Medic Competition at Ford Hood, Texas in January. Sgt. 1st Class, Andrew Keum and Staff Sgt. Dusty Edwards will represent the 30th Medical Brigade, and Staff Sgt. Timothy Rebich and Staff Sgt. Alejandro Preciado, will represent Regional Health Command Europe.
The Army’s Best Medic Competition is an annual event that challenges two-Soldier teams to compete in a demanding, continuous, and realistic simulated operational environment. The teams compete for bragging rights as the most technically competent, physically and mentally tough medic team in the United States Army.
“Best Medic tests an individual’s tactical, technical and institutional knowledge on medical tasks and basic warrior tasks,” said Sgt 1st Class Brian Phillips, the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the Best Medic competition. “It’s a culmination of multiple events, and based on each competitor’s overall score, we determine who will move on to the Army-level competition.”
The competition consists of multiple events, starting with a road march, followed by the Army Combat Fitness Test and a written exam. From that point, each team is given a road map to help them navigate to additional competition areas where they completed tasks ranging from providing tactical combat casualty care in a simulated combat environment, to properly donning a chemical, biological, Radiological, and nuclear protective suit.
RHCE’s Command Sgt. Major Kyle Brunell was the guest speaker for the Best Medic awards ceremony.
“Each of you represent not just what we DO, but what we medical personnel are FOR,” Brunell said. “You are the best of our respective commands, and four of you will go on to represent all of us at the Army Best Medic competition.
“This whole year seems like there’s been one urgent priority after another, but you still volunteered your time to compete here today, and for that we are all truly grateful. One day, the skills you test here may be needed to save lives on the battlefield of tomorrow.”
Competitors are required to complete the majority of tasks while wearing a helmet and flack vest and carrying a 35-pound rucksack.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Rebich, a respiratory therapist assigned to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, says that the most challenging part of the Best Medic competition for him was having to wear the rucksack throughout the competition.
“That just made the whole thing uncomfortable, which I’m sure is exactly what they wanted,” he said with a laugh. “It’s tough, but it’s fun. You get to find out what kind of person you are, and I like that.”
Rebich says he thought he and his partner worked really well together as a team and is looking forward to competing at Fort Hood.
His partner, Staff Sgt. Alejandro Preciado, an animal care specialist at Veterinary Medical Center Europe, had the highest score of any competitor. Despite his animal care expertise, Preciado found the portion of the competition involving the treatment and transport of a simulated injured military working dog to be the most challenging.
“As soon as I saw the dog, I thought it was going to be easy,” Preciado said. “But actually that turned out to be the most challenging part of the competition for me.”
Preciado says carrying the dog on a litter over a long distance while carrying a 35-pound rucksack was the most challenging part of the competition for him.
“I know that the Army-level competition will be even more competitive, so I’m sure we’ll be doing a lot of physical training to prepare for it.”
Sgt. 1st Class Justin Keum, an operating room NCO assigned to the 512th Field Hospital, says this type of event puts Soldiers at the forefront of what Army Medicine represents.
“[Best Medic] is about putting us in a stressful situation and testing our ability to get to our casualties and shoot, move and communicate effectively when we are deployed. This was a tough setting, but moving forward I can’t wait to see what the Army will bring to us at Fort Hood.”
The Best Medic winners will spend the next several months preparing for the Army-level competition, and Staff Sgt. Dusty Edwards, an ancillary platoon sergeant for the 512th Field Hospital’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, says that will require a lot of running, training with the rucksack, and practicing medical skills.
“Between now and then we will train, train, train every day,” Edwards said. “Then In January, we’ll go down to Fort Hood and represent [our commands].”