WBAMC Soldiers earn prestigious EFMB
Julia Yubeta,WBAMC Public Affairs:
Freezing cold temperatures, high winds blowing at 35 to 40 miles per hour, snow and two weeks straight of 16-hour days didn’t deter William Beaumont Army Medical Center Soldiers from their goal – earning the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge during the Fort Bliss EFMB qualification held Jan. 22 through Feb. 1.
Event officials said that more than 160 candidates and cadre from across the nation participated in the competition. In the end, 27 Soldiers were awarded the prestigious Army skill badge.
Twenty-three candidates from WBAMC entered the competition, five earned the badge. They are: Maj. Jennifer Orr, Capts. Brad Cunningham, William Henjum, Robert Miller, and 2nd Lt. Brent Turpin.
“It is a matter of personal achievement for me,” said Henjum, commander, Company A, Troop Command. “Getting out from behind a desk and doing what combat medics do every day was a great learning experience.”
Turpin, a medical-surgical nurse, said his motivation to compete for the badge was to develop his leadership skills. The former heavy equipment mechanic loved being back in the field and challenging himself physically and mentally.
The EFMB was established in 1965 as a Department of the Army special skill award for the recognition of exceptional competence by field medical personnel. The program has since been transformed into a testing event that closely mirrors what combat medics are required to do.
Tested events on the EFMB now fall within one of the following areas: tactical combat casualty care, medical and casualty evacuation, communications, warrior skills, day and night land navigation, a written test, and a 12-mile ruck march. The Army physical fitness test, weapons qualification and cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification are also components of the testing.
The combat testing lanes revolved around three phases associated with TCCC: care under fire, tactical field care and combat casualty evacuation.
“The most challenging part was remembering the details of each step,” Henjum said. “Each task must be executed in order – you had to stay focused.”
Miller, a physical therapist, agreed that focusing on the task, without thinking about the overwhelming challenges ahead, was crucial.
The three hours to complete a 12-mile road march may seem doable, but after two weeks of hardship in the field, the physical, mental and emotional strain of this grueling course can take a toll on a Soldier.
Henjum said it was also tough to see friends go home.
“You know they want it just as bad as you do,” he said.
“Wearing this badge on my chest is a means of solidifying respect and confidence in a combat environment,” said Orr, an obstetrics-gynecologist. “It means I am not [just] a doctor in the military, but a military doctor.”
The successful badge earners credited the great train-up provided by a team of noncommissioned officers and officers from WBAMC for prepping them for the competition. After-hour study halls and progressive ruck marches helped prepare them for the physical and mental challenges.
“The ruck march training schedule put my new boots and myself to the test,” said Cunningham, a staff optometrist.
Challenging, tough, hard and grueling are all words used to describe the EFMB competition. The badge is worn by only 15 percent of those assigned to U.S. Army Medical Command.
“Everyone in MEDCOM should try for this badge,” said Henjum. “It’s not just about the badge, but about the training. [It is] priceless.”
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