By: Capt. Michael Greenberger
2nd Brigade Combat Team

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Combat medics from across the 10th Mountain Division (LI) participated in the annual "best medic" competition this week at the Medical Simulation Training Center, all vying for a spot in a national competition held at Fort Sam Houston, Texas in November.

According to 1st Lt. Timothy Wall, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment's Medical Officer, the best medic competition is held each year to narrow down a field of candidates that go on to earn their place as the Army's top medical performer. Six candidates will be chosen from those competing this week to train over the next few months to determine who will eventually represent the division at Fort Sam Houston.

"The competition is a very cardio-intensive challenge," said Cpl. Eric Smith, a combat medic with the 1-89 Cavalry. "It's also very fun, informative and well put-together. There were no stations here that I felt I didn't know what was going on."

As with many large-scale events support personnel are necessary for the program success. 20 Soldiers from the 1-89 Cavalry medical platoon supported the event. Working with other units 1-89 medics wound up running through the strenuous course several times supporting each best medic competitor.

"Each medic that comes through needs a three-man team so they've been helping out the other medics with pushing them through the lane," Wall said. "Their participation also gives them an idea what the competition is about and the training aspect of it and how tough the graders are."

Smith fought, ran, marched, and dragged his way through a grueling 5-mile course. Along the
way, he performed first aid and evacuation under combat conditions courtesy of the MSTC's realistic "field of battle" complete with disabled vehicles and aircraft, role-players, sounds of battle broadcast over loudspeakers, smoke grenades, and Black Hawk helicopters flying overhead at treetop level.

"A qualification to participate is you either had to have your Combat Medic Badge or Expert Field Medical Badge," Wall said. "Very few of our medics have deployed to get their CMB but Smith did and he volunteered to come out here so he was chosen to compete. He came in 2nd during the road march and did well during the rest of the course."

"The hardest part of the course was crawling under the wire," Smith said. "I had an extra large pack due to my medical kit so there was an extra challenge there. I hope to make it into the final competition though."