Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
Soldiers scrambled through mud, charged over walls and inspected, treated and transported the wounded — all in pursuit of the Expert Field Medical Badge.
More than 200 Soldiers from as far away as Alaska assembled at Fort Carson for Expert Field Medical Badge testing, hosted by the 4th Infantry Division at the Wilderness Road Training Complex July 30-Aug. 24.
The candidates arrived at the complex Aug. 12 to in-process and begin EFMB standardization, where they were shown the correct way to perform all the tasks they would be graded on, and remained there until graduation.
The testing portion began Aug. 19 with a written test and night land navigation, followed over the next four days by common task lanes and day land navigation, and concluded Aug. 24 with the 12-mile foot march, followed by the graduation ceremony.
The prestige associated with the badge brings many candidates back for multiple attempts to earn it.
“It took me three times to earn my EFMB,” said evaluator Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Hays, emergency room noncommissioned officer, Medical and Dental Activity Alaska, Bassett Army Community Hospital, Fort Wainwright, Alaska. “Attention to detail and the communications portion got me.”
Hays also felt attention to detail was the greatest obstacle for the candidates going through this EFMB as well.
“The most challenging part is doing the manikin, doing the assessments, doing the treatments; there’s so many attention to detail tasks in the lanes. It’s different sitting here (in the staging area), from when you get there, you’ve got patients yelling at you, you get flustered.”
The difficulty of earning an EFMB can be measured by numbers. Out of the 224 candidates who began the EFMB competition, only 14 graduated. Hays had some motivational words for those who did not make it.
“Don’t quit, keep trying,” said Hays. “This is your first time; you’ve got an idea of what it’s like now. You can’t take it personal.”
That sentiment was echoed by Pfc. Kyle Kenter, health care specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., and the first Soldier to complete the 12-mile foot march, at 2 hours, 32 minutes.
“If it’s something you really want, keep trying. (EFMB) is a stressful event; don’t get discouraged when you get there.”
The road to victory may have been long, but the Soldiers who completed the EFMB enjoyed their success.
“It’s definitely something to be proud of,” said Kenter. “It’s something I never thought I’d have the chance to do.”
Kenter attributed his strong finish to determination: “I never quit, I never give up, and I try to give 110 percent in whatever I do.”Sgt. Nagiv Samad, senior line health care specialist, 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., had no doubts about his Soldier’s success.
“I knew he was going to come across first; he’s the epitome of motivation,” Samad said of Kenter. “He’s one of the best Soldiers I ever had. I couldn’t ask for a better guy.”
During the EFMB presentation ceremony, Maj. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, commanding general, Western Regional Medical Command, shared his thoughts about the importance of the badge.
“This ceremony is not only the culmination of what has obviously been a very difficult and challenging competition, but it also represents a significant milestone in the military careers of these medics who are receiving the coveted EFMB today,” Thomas said.
“The EFMB symbolizes that Army heritage; it symbolizes the best of Army medicine; it’s a symbol for excellence in combat medical skills.”