EFMB: 112 step up for the challenge, 21 earn coveted badge
Story and Photos by David Moore/Staff Writer USASA-Fort Dix
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST -- Soldiers are always training to meet the standard and do their best. They strive to win at the challenge. But when it comes to earning the U.S. Army's Expert Field Medical Badge it's the attention to detail even seconds that can make or break person from earning the Expert Field Medical Badge.
After 112 candidates stepped into their first formation April 17 until the smoke cleared from the medical combat training lanes and a 12-mile ruck march ended, 21 remained or about 19-percent were pinned with the EFMB Sunday, April, 29, by Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho, commanding general of the U.S. Army's Northern Regional Medical Command headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va.
1st Lt. Walter Peoples, assigned to Public Health Command Region-North at Fort Meade, is the first to cross the finish line after a 12-mile ruck march April 29 in 2:23 far below the mandated three hour event of the Expert Field Medical Badge Competition, sponsored by U.S. Army's Northern Regional Medical Command headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va. held at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Sgt. Peter King, of the 174th Infantry Brigade, Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst charges forward with a patient on a SKED or military Improvised litter during the Northern Regional Medical Command's Expert Field Medical Badge held at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, NJ. that wrapped up April 29. Capt. David Kingery, of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md, examines and treats simulated battle casualty, Spc. Skylar Dhan, of the Walson Medical Support Element, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ, who suffered a leg wound from enemy gun fire on Combat Tactical Lane One which focuses on combat medical tasks and treatment during the Northern Regional Medical Command's Expert Field Medical Badge held at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, NJ.
The event was held for the first time at the joint base with daily support from USASA-Fort Dix's Directorate of Plans, Training and Mobilization, and Security's Training Management, 174th Infantry Brigade, and Walson Medical Support Element. Overall, 150 military personnel were also on hand from the medical command's area of responsibility for mentoring, grading, and technical support.
1st Lt. Walter Peoples, assigned to Public Health Command Region-North at Fort Meade, was the first to cross the finish line after a 12-mile ruck march April 29 in 2:23 far below the mandated three hour event.
"I had a lot of support getting here, as well as support from the cadre and platyoon for this event. While earning the EFMB is certainly an accomplishment equally as important is the camaraderie and friends I have made here," Peoples said.
During the march in the soft sand of Range Road, 1LT Margaret Champion, of Womack Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C., had a surprise waiting at the six-mile mark. Her husband Capt. Jerry Champion, was waiting to ruck the last six-miles with her after driving 12-miles from Fort Gordon, Ga. She didn't know he would be here.
Cpt. Champion said his wife had called the day before the combat-gear loaded ruck march to see if he would be there for the march. "I said no way. Why would I want to ruck march," He was already in town when he wished her good luck.
"She has worked two years to be here. She wanted to do something outside of the hospital and do it for the Army. I am very proud of her" he added. 1LT Championed joked with her husband and said using a twist on their name. "Am I an expert now and not just a champion," she said.
The Expert Field Medical Badge was created by the Army in 1965 and is the non-combat equivalent to the Combat Medical Badge. During the competition, besides the 12-mile combat medic load ruch march, candidates had to put their skills to the test doing simultaneous warrior and medical tasks on three combat lanes, day and night land navigation, and a written test. Despite having a standardization week to walk through the event, candidates began to dwindle during each phase of the competition.
Experts serving as officers or noncommissioned officers in charge of their respective lanes reported what gets many of the candidates is the level of attention to detail. For example Sgt. 1st Class Charles Granke, 1st-307th Infantry and NCOIC of day and night land navigation had cautioned the candidates to try to stay off the roads. He cautioned them some roads may be marked as such and no longer exist. So terrain association becomes paramount for hitting all their points.
"Some of the candidates see the hard top and think they are on the right road, but they're not," Granke said.
EFMB Cadre and candidates said the toughest lane was combat lane one--a combination of more than 23 warrior and medical tasks in a combat driven scenario. But inside those tasks, they add up to more than a 100 critical steps to be successful. In a real battle missing one can mean life or death when it comes to tactical combat care.
The lane actually begins by candidates loading the medic bag before going out on a simulated combat mission. Missing one item, such as a dressing for an abdominal would, can cause the medic trouble.
"Lane one is historically the most challenging since all the combat care medical tasks are on this lane. To get a go on this lane you need to get a go on 11 of the 14 medical tasks," Sgt. 1st Class John Sample, a seven-time EFMB evaluator from the Medical Department Activity, Fort Drum.
Candidates with high levels of motiviation seemed to be the norm for moving up the later toward garnering the coveted badge. Mast Sgt. Richard Malby, who served as the EFMB competition first sergeant from Walter Reed National Military Center, said, that even in the final phases individuals were highly competitive and cadre mentoring remained high for the candidates. In one of the platoons each day, he said, one group even would put camouflage on their faces looking like the rock band Kiss. Each morning they began by singing Kiss’s ‘Rock and Roll All Night.’
“With the pressure of the event, I see where motiviation and humor defibnetly eases the stress and the Soldiers seem to perform better,” Malby said.
Maj. Willian 'BJ" Jones, the first medical officer at ASA-Dix to bear the EFMB and the officer in charge of arranging and operating the first-time ever event for the activity. said the staff at ASA-Dix provided outstanding support for the successful event.
"Dix was the logical choice to host this event. The availability of resources and training area made Dix the logical choice because of it's one stop shopping approach to host the event here," Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho e said.
Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho also gave credit to the 87th Air Base Wing, the Dix staff. as well as all the medical training support staff.
During the graduation ceremony, he congratulated all the Soldiers for completing the competition and now bearing the badge that is recognized the world over--"the Army's Expert Field Medical Badge," he said.
"But the 90-plus individuals who may not be here, they need to be commended for their courage. They stepped up to the line and took on the challenge. It may not have been there day but I can assure you that sometime soon they will take on this challenge again and continue to strive for this badge," he said.