CAMP BULLIS, Texas — Four medics from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division traveled to San Antonio, to compete in the U.S. Army’s Best Medic Competition Oct. 26 to 28.
On a cold, rainy day, filled with lighting flashing, the paratroopers from the Panther Brigade were not deterred from completing the mission that they traveled so far to accomplish. The task at hand was to become the U.S. Army’s best medic.
Sixty-four Soldiers, selected from across the Army, competed in the continuous 72-hour, two-man team competition that would stress the most seasoned medics.
For the Soldiers to compete in the event, they first had to earn the Combat Medic Badge or the Expert Field Medical Badge.
Spc. Daniel Holmes and Spc. Jonathon Snelling, Team 2, and Staff Sgt. Craig Miller and Sgt. Jason Boroff, Team 23, bested the 82nd Airborne Division’s Best Medic Competition to earn the right to represent the division at Camp Bullis.
“Let me state that we have with us 64 of America’s finest Soldiers in all of Army medicine here today”, said Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army surgeon general, who was the guest speaker at the awards ceremony. “We have every division, every region, special operation, Special Forces and the National Guard that’s represented here today.”
Day one began with a physical fitness challenge, an obstacle course and the M-9 and M-4 stress shoots that tested the team’s physical strength as well as their marksmanship skills.
During the M-9 and M-4 stress shoots, teams had to evacuate a simulated casualty on a litter while engaging the enemy through a haze of smoke and the sound of weapons blaring from the loudspeakers.
“The best part of the competition was the physical demand and the medical tasks,” said Boroff. “You get two hours to sleep the night before, and then the next day you get slammed with four medical lanes back-to-back. It was good training for sure.”
The competitors also had to turn in a written test, which consisted of 250 questions. The test was issued at the start of the competition and the medics could either of complete their test or sleep during their down time.
On day two, the Soldiers maneuvered through combat medic lanes, the land navigation course and an urban assault course using simulated munitions similar to paintball rounds while defending themselves and treating casualties.
“The creativity and work that went into the medical lanes this year was great. Every one that you hit was uniquely different and provided a different challenge,” said Holmes, who competed last year. “From the vehicle extractions to the tunnel system, everything was aimed to challenge you in a slightly different way.”
On the final day the candidates had to access a mass casualty scenario and complete a litter obstacle course with a 180-pound dummy and if that wasn’t enough, a timed, 2.7-mile buddy run was the final event.
When asked how this competition differed from that of the 82nd Abn. Div., Snelling said the competition was more physical and continuous versus break in-between events.
“We spent a lot of time at the division surgeon cell getting hands-on training with the mannequin, getting familiar with equipment and talking through scenarios,” said Holmes. “At the end of the day, we came off the lanes really feeling confident that we did well and accomplished the objectives within those lanes.”
The paratroopers from 82nd Abn. Div. gave their best effort but Staff Sgt. Andrew Balha from Evans Army Community Hospital, Fort Carson, Colo. and Staff Sgt. Alexander Folsom from Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Wash. earned the title of Best Army Medic and was presented trophies by Horoho.
“The combat medic is the key component in greater than ninety percent survival rate of our combat wounded,” said Horoho.