FORT STEWART, Ga. - Two Vanguard Soldiers will represent the 3rd Infantry Division and take a stab at becoming the Army's Top Medic Team for 2009 at an Expert Field Medical Competition, Oct. 19-24.

Sergeants Andrew Dishman and Timothy Whitlock, both assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, will challenge the Army's best medic teams to a non-stop, 72-hour test of their technical and tactical medical proficiency.

The EFMC, which will take place at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, includes a physical fitness assessment, written exam, weapons marksmanship, Top Warrior Stakes, land navigation, combat medical lanes, forced buddy run, forced foot march and an obstacle course.

In preparation for this grueling competition, the duo took part in a validation training exercise at Fort Stewart's Confidence Obstacle Course, Sept. 10. Though only an exercise, the training was structured to provide the medics with scenarios realistic to today's battlefield.

The 4th IBCT medics reacted to an improvised explosive device, prepared and transmitted a medical evacuation request, conducted a 12-mile road march and took part in both day and night land navigation. Additionally, they treated and transported simulated casualties - 250 pound mannequins and Soldiers equipped with full "battle-rattle."

"The training is definitely tiring," said Sgt. Dishman. "The mannequins themselves are very realistic in the fact that they weigh quite a bit, just like it would be with a real patient. Training was definitely an eye opener. It gives us insight into what we are lacking and what we need to work on."

"The instructors here push you to make decisions quickly, which you would have to do in a real-world environment," he continued. "You have to make those decisions quite quickly."

Sergeant Dishman's teammate agreed to the physical challenges of the medic competition.
"I'm physically beat at this point," Sgt. Whitlock said. "The 12-mile road march alone took all of my energy."

But despite the rigorous training, the two agreed that competing in the Army-wide medic competition is one challenge worth trying.

"I just have to be ready and don't give up," Sgt. Whitlock said. "It means a lot to compete against other people throughout the Army. It's going to be a challenge, but it would mean a lot to us if we come back 'Top Medics.'"