By Sgt. Karl Williams, 3rd BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.July 26, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - It's considered one of the hardest tests in the Army to overcome and one of the most coveted badges to earn. It also denotes professional competence and physical endurance of medical Soldiers.
Recently, 50 combat medics from 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, endured scorching temperatures in full combat gear as they took part in EFMB training, here, July 19 through 22.
The four-day training session prepared the brigade's medics for the division's upcoming EFMB certification next month.
The field training site was organized into three stations. Medics had to show aptitude not only in medical skills, but also in basic soldiering tasks such as disassembling and assembling weapons, decontamination procedures and reacting and moving under fire.
Prior to the field portion of the training, medics completed a written test covering medical assessments, treatments, and evacuating casualties.
Medics were teamed up, given the tasks, conditions and standards and ran through each lane.
For some, the training was an opportunity to revisit skills learned in advance individual training at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, and to add a few new tools to their medical kits.
"The EFMB training was really high speed. I haven't done any training that intense since I left the schoolhouse," said Pfc. Travis Green, from Atlanta, a combat medic assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment. "It was good to be able to refresh old skills and pick up some new ones from Soldiers who have experiences from a deployment," said Green.
Green said the training helped him to focus on areas he needed to improve prior to the start of the EFMB certification testing next month.
Pfc. Sydney Vonseggern, from Longview, Wash., agreed, saying the EFMB training was definitely challenging. Her focus was on keeping her patient alive, regardless of all the gear that made it hot and difficult.
"You really have to listen to your 'fight or flight' response," Sydney said. "You either stay there and treat your casualty, or let your nervousness and adrenaline shut your mind down," said Vonseggern, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd BrigadeSpecial Troops Battalion.
Following three-days of testing, Soldiers then braced themselves on the fourth day for a 12-mile road march, the final event of the training.
"After three days of intense training, a 12-mile road march in three hours with 45 pounds in your rucksack is a test of willpower," said Green, who finished the road march in a little over three hours.
Staff Sgt. Bobby Whitfield, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the EFMB training exercise, with C Medical Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, said medics must be thoroughly adept at each task before being recommended as a candidate for the EFMB certification test in August.
Today, the pass rate for achieving this badge is between 15 and 20 percent, making the EFMB one of the most difficult and prestigious Army skill badges to earn.
"Due to the high rate of attrition most of the medics trying to earn the EFMB won't succeed on their first try, however the experience they pick up is still priceless," said Whitfield, who went through the certification several times before earning his badge.
"I want the medics even if they are not selected to go to the division's certification test to take the training seriously, so they can do what medics are trained to do, save lives," he said.