By Mr. Jerry Harben (Army Medicine)October 21, 2009
Some of the Army's best medical personnel are enduring a grueling series of tests this week during the Expert Field Medical Competiton at Camp Bullis, the medic training base near Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The event will culminate in one team being proclaimed the "Top Medics in the Army" on Friday, Oct. 23.
"The objective of the event is to test them physically and mentally, push them to their limits. It tests stamina as well as tactical and technical proficiency, under stress in simulated battlefield conditions," said Maj. Jim H. Hall, officer in charge of the event.
Competition began Oct. 20 and includes a physical fitness test, marksmanship with the M9 pistol and M16A2 rifle, obstacle course, a 100-question written test, land navigation over rugged, hilly terrain by day and night, hands-on tests of skills from the Soldiers Manual for Common Tasks, combat medic lanes testing medical and Soldier skills in a simulated combat environment, and a forced foot march carrying ruck sack, weapon and protective mask.
All competitors already have earned the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) and/or Combat Medical Badge (CMB).
"It's physically and mentally challenging," said Spec. Kenneth A. Simmons, a medical laboratory specialist from Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas, representing the Great Plains Regional Medical Command. "It's a chance to stand out among our peers in the medical field."
Hall compared the event to the well-known Best Ranger and Best Sapper competitions.
"It gives medical folks a chance to come out and show what they can do," he said.
The medics are competing in pairs selected from divisions, brigades, regional medical commands and other large medical units. Sgt. 1st Class George Koranyi, an operations sergeant from the Army Medical Department Center and School who is supervising the event, noted that most previous EFMC competitions had been for individual honors, but this year it returned to its original concept of two-person teams.
"Medics don't operate by themselves. It's good for morale for them to help each other out," he said.
The competitors include:
Capt. Jason W. Hughes and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jorge Maganacortez from the 551st Medical Company (Logistics) at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Sgt. John D. Hudgins and Capt. Brett S. Allmond from Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point, N.Y.
Sgt. 1st Class Marvin W. Gash and 1st Lt. Stephen P. Krutko from B Company, 21st Combat Support Hospital at Fort Hood, Texas.
1st Lt. Zachary J. Kufahl and Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hall from Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii.
Sgt. 1st Class Bryce A. Mikalik from Lawrence Joel Army Health Clinic at Fort McPherson, Ga., and Maj. John L. Arment from Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning, Ga.
Sgt. Zachary C. Schewe from Yuma Proving Ground Health Clinic, Ariz., and Sgt. Thomas E. Blaine from Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Wash.
Staff Sgt. Timothy J. Kline and Spec. Kenneth A. Simmons from Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas.
Sgt. Scott D. Coleman and Staff Sgt. Daniel S. Lopez from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st-327th Infantry, Fort Campbell, Ky.
Sgt. Stephanie R. Thompson from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion and Sgt. James P. Philibert from 1st-9th Cavalry at Fort Hood, Texas.
Spec. Ty L. Gregg and Sgt. Johnny Gonzales from 2nd-325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Staff Sgt. Bjoern Pietrzyk and Sgt. Charles Smith from Heidelberg, Germany, Medical Department Activity.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin D. Buford and Sgt. 1st Class Ricardo Gutierrez from the Army Medical Department Center and School.
Sgt. Timothy D. Whitlock and Sgt. Andrew L. Dishman from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd-15th Infantry, Fort Stewart, Ga.
Information about the EFMC is on Army Knowledge Online at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/621281