Soldiers earn EFMB


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice Archive/2009/April/090414-03.html

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Courtesy of The Bayonet, April 14, 2009) - Seventy-four Soldiers came to Fort Benning March 22 to earn the Expert Field Medical Badge, but just over half are expected to emerge from their training Saturday wearing the badge.

"It's a high commodity," said MSG Harold Montgomery, NCOIC for the EFMB course. "Not a lot of people have the badge right now. In a few years, it's very likely it could make the difference in promotion selections and advancement."

Armywide, the EFMB has one of the highest attrition rates of any course, with only about 14 percent of candidates earning the badge each year. The rate for Fort Benning's course is about 55 percent, a difference Montgomery attributes to smaller class sizes and longer training. Though regulations call for a two-week course, Fort Benning EFMB candidates train and test for three weeks, which Montgomery said allows trainers to give more in-depth instruction.

To earn the badge, Soldiers must demonstrate proficiency not only in medical skills, but also in basic soldiering skills such as land navigation and reacting and moving under fire.

Those with passing scores after the course's four and a half days of written and field testing earn the right to prove themselves on its final event, a 12-mile road march.
For some candidates, the course was an opportunity to brush up forgotten skills.

"Land navigation is not something you use in Afghanistan or Iraq very much, but when you come back here, it's like wiping the dust off," said SGT Bryson Grove, a combat medic with the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. "It's allowed me to rehash some of the basic medical skills I learned in Advanced Individual Training and put them to use again."

Grove said training for the EFMB would help him contribute to the success of future missions because he will be better able to train junior Soldiers.

"If you have a guy who comes to your unit with the EFMB, these (young) medics are going to look up to him," he said. "He'll be able to take those skills and pass them down to them and hopefully give them the urge to want to go get their (badge) as well."

Though all EFMB candidates must have a health care-related MOS, many are not medics and do not perform medical treatments regularly. For SPC George Josiah, 14th Combat Support Hospital, who works in patient administration, the most difficult part of the course was tactical combat casualty care.

"It's hard because you have to move under direct fire and treat casualties, and at the same time make sure you don't sever any limbs and that you treat everybody according to the regulations," he said. "And you have to make sure you don't miss any steps, or else they could die."

"I'm not a medic, but I'm with a medical unit, so it makes me more aware of my surroundings," he said. "And just in case anything were to happen, I would know what to do."

CPT Patrick Glass, a medical operations officer with 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, shared a similar sentiment.

"I'm not expected to do all the medical tasks the medics are," he said. "But I'm a medical platoon leader, and all my guys are out here, so I need to be out here with them."

Though most of the Soldiers trying to earn the EFMB won't succeed on their first try, the experience is still valuable, Montgomery said.

"Regardless of whether they get the badge in the end, they at least get some training that they may not have had before," he said. "Depending on the unit, they may not get exposure to this kind of training at all otherwise. Nothing ever goes perfectly in combat, but the more you can perfect it in training, the better the outcome will probably be in combat."

(Editor's note: This story appeared in the April 14, 2009 issue of The Bayonet)