17 Earn Coveted Medical Badges

Story by SFC Miriam Espinoza on 06/28/2018
Only 6 percent of the service members who competed were awarded the prestigious badge. The pass rate for a typical EFMB competition across the Army is between 5 to 25 percent.

"Earning the Expert Field Medical Badge is a demonstration of excellence both in your Soldier skills and your medical skills," said Lt. Col. Kevin Mahoney, 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion commander. "It's a commitment to excellence and physical endurance."

The EFMB competition began June 7 with 282 candidates from Army and one Navy lieutenant. Soldiers, ranging from the ranks of private to lieutenant colonel from units across JBLM, attended this year's competition.

The train-up for the competition began on 1 June. Candidates had a week in which they were able to execute the tasks and get guidance from the graders.

The evaluators, who were all recipients of the badge, answered questions as candidates executed the tasks to ensure they understood the standard.

Many of the competitors were there for their second or even third attempt to attain the coveted medical badge.

During the competition, many of the competitors were sent home for medical, emergency leave, voluntary or administrative reasons. The majority are for administrative reasons.

"It is hard work, and whether you earn the badge or you don't, it's all still worth it because you've gained valuable lessons and some awesome knowledge," said Navy Lt. Jason Fuchs, United States Northern Command medic.

The competitors were tested both physically and mentally. With little or no time to sleep for six days, they were tested on their medical skills and physical fitness.

Overall, the competition involved 120 hours of testing for the competitors. They had timed events such as a written exam, Combat Testing Lanes, night and day land navigation course and a 12-mile road march that they had three hours to complete.

The candidates first took the written examination, and if they received a passing grade, they moved on to day land navigation. In order to move to the next task, the candidates had to achieve a passing grade on the task at hand.

The last task was the 12-mile road march. Only 17 candidates started, and 17, in this case, finished.

Setting up for an event of this magnitude is no easy task. It took 56th Med. Bn. months of planning and approximately 325 support personnel to ensure everything was ready for the candidates.

"It's a tough job, but it is always fun to see your team succeed at such a large task," said Maj. Matthews Tillman, operations officer, 56th Med. Bn. "It takes hard work from senior noncommissioned officers and junior officers to make an event like this happen."

The 17 Soldiers, who completed all tasks, were awarded the Expert Field Medical badge Tuesday after the final event in a ceremony at Cowan Stadium on JBLM.

"Staying focused and not letting the stress get to you was the hardest part, but anyone can do it as long as you want it," said Capt. Clifford Wong, executive officer, 153rd Medical Detachment, 56th Med. Bn.



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