For a group of Soldiers from the 274th Foward Surgical Team (Airborne), 28th Combat Support Hospital, 44th Medical Brigade, studying to qualify for an Expert Field Medic Badge was a team endeavor. Master Sgt. Brian Hawkins, Sgt. Austin Madruga and Spc. Slavatore Migliore spent a recent deployment hitting the books and employing practical field experience in preparation for last week’s EFMB.
They completed this task while the 274th FST (A) under 28th CSH, 44th Medical Bde. was deep into a nine-month deployment in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East.  
The 274th FST (A) provided CJTF-OIR with casualty care for Coalition and partner forces fighting to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  While deployed Hawkins, Madruga and Migliore were part of an FST that treated over 1,800 combat casualties including a variety of severe injuries including head, chest and abdomen.
The FST conducted immediate damage control surgery and damage control resuscitation, stabilizing critically ill casualties and was used as a measure to save lives downrange.
Even with all of this going on, Hawkins, Madruga and Migliore took time to focus on preparations for the upcoming EFMB.
Spc. Dylan Brushaber, 274th FST (A), 28th CSH, 44th Medical Bde., and an EFMB badge holder, assisted his brothers-in-arm in preparing by setting up EFMB Jeopardy games.
With the TV set up on the operating room, EFMB jeopardy contestants would gather around to be asked questions.
They could buzz in by successfully tossing a ball into a wash basin and then would be able to respond to questions. Brushaber pulled the questions directly from the EFMB study guide.
After just two months home Hawkins, Madruga and Migliore were ready to hit the EFMB ground running.
This was all three Soldiers’ third attempt at gaining an elusive EFMB.
What made this difference this go around?
“Definitely working together as a team helped us be successful this time,” said Migliore.
Hawkins attributes his success to his focus on taking care of the Soldiers in his care and the absence of distraction.
Madruga explained that an increase in confidence helped him succeed this go-round, but he also noted the importance of the support system the group had created.
“Personally, I am just thankful they (Hawkins and Migliore) were out there with me,” he said.
With multiple opportunities to intentionally mess up and get sent home, Madruga kept focused because he knew that Migliore would be looking up to him and that failing would be letting his boss, Hawkins, down.
“I am thankful to my leadership for giving me the opportunity to go a third time … It encourages development and career progression,” said Migliore.