Coveted and difficult to achieve, earning the Expert Field Medic Badge involves days of testing and assessment.
The EFMB is a special skill award that recognizes exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel. It has been awarded since 1965.
Participants seeking the EFMB must successfully complete a written test, combat testing lanes, land navigation and a 12-mile road march. The three combat testing lanes are designed to evaluate a candidate’s attention to detail with a total of six communication, 10 evacuation, 13 warrior and 14 medical reaction-based hands-on tasks.
Testing for the EFMB began at Fort Bragg’s Medical Simulation Training Center last Friday and culminated in a 12-mile Foot March and Graduation ceremony, Wednesday.
Set up for the EFMB assessment began at Fort Bragg MSTC on Oct. 2. The process to ready the 44th Medical Brigade included grader standardization, which was overseen by test control officers from the U. S. Army Medical Department Center and School, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
“He (test control officer) actually runs through the lanes and makes sure everyone is on the same page, everyone is in tracking the same things … basically they all have the same understanding of how the task is supposed to be performed,” said Capt. Megan Glowacki, 44th Medical Bde.
All graders and cadre for the EFMB must be badge holders themselves and Glowacki is no different.
Glowacki received the EFMB on her first attempt last November, and is now in the officer in charge of this year’s event.
“It was great to get the first time go because it is very challenging … to actually be running it after a year that is pretty great … get to show my leadership what I can do, and put on this world class event for these Soldiers,” said Glowacki.
With 13 units deployed either on warfighting missions downrange or humanitarian missions, the 44th Medical Bde. pulled out all the stops for the largest EFMB in the past two years.
“The candidates live out here the whole time so it’s … a good exercise for our brigade to do this,” said Capt. Elizabeth Boggs, 44th Medical Bde., judge advocate. “This is amazing training for us. We just take advantage of this and that our whole brigade just jumps in and we get training out of it … it’s pretty cool.”
This EFMB event also stands out because it is a pilot of several new standardizations within the EFMB designed to better align it with the Expert Infantry Badge. Some of these changes to the EFMB include changes in both day and night land navigation and the exclusion of non-medical personnel from participation.
Due to the detail-oriented nature of the EFMB assessment, badge holders do not always receive a go on their first attempt.
Some candidates are on their second or even third attempt to achieve the standards necessary for an EFMB.
One such Soldier is Sgt. Courtney Smith, 528th Combat Operations Stress Control, 44th Medical Bde. This is Smith’s third attempt at an EFMB.
Smith was excited and proud after a perfect run on the famously difficult medical combat testing lane.
“This is the representation of tangible excellence in our field … I think when you’re doing this, you want to gain a certain degree of professionalism or at least tangible evidence of it, so that’s why I came back,” said Smith. “I got all go-s so it feels wonderful, and this is the hardest lane here, the medical tasks, and it is a lot of sub tasks in the task. Being able to come out here and do that after the last two performances means I am definitely on the right path with training.”
The EFMB candidates totaled 325 at the start of the event. After completion of written tests and land navigation, only 205 candidates remained. Upon the completion of all combat testing lanes, only 92 field medical personnel were still standing.
After the culminating, 12-mile field road march, Wednesday, 78 candidates received the EFMB.
With under a quarter of the original candidates graduating, it’s clear why the EFMB is considered such a highly-prized achievement.