Assessment standard also tests ‘old school’ doctrine
Story and photos by
Sgt. Robert England
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Combat medics from all units in the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, conducted an Expert Field Medical Badge assessment Aug. 13-16, here, to prepare for EFMB testing.
During the four-day assessment, more than 60 medics assigned to all units in 2nd SBCT (with the exception of the 1st Battalion, 27th Inf. Regiment) demonstrated their proficiency across a broad spectrum of tasks that they will be expected to perform at the actual EFMB qualification, here, Oct. 28-Nov. 8.
The tasks range from tactical combat casualty care and land navigation to a road march and an Army Physical Fitness Test, said Pfc. Andrew Houdyshel, combat medic, Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regt., 2nd SBCT.
“There are some basic soldiering skills that every Soldier should know,” Houdyshel said. “It’s just that we don’t get many opportunities to train on it, so we’ve been pretty rusty.”
As a medic, the main effort lies in the assumption of responsibilities in the medical field, and the inclusion of basic Soldier skills in the assessment will allow the candidates to refine those skills, as well, said 1st Lt. Brandon Ritchey, medical operations officer, 2nd SBCT.
“This is going to be their main effort because it’s a pretty difficult badge to earn,” Ritchey said. “They don’t always get the chance to do all these things as medics.”
Houdyshel said the most challenging part for him was adjusting his operating procedures to meet the grading requirements.
“The EFMB standard is different from what we use today; it’s old-school,” Houdyshel said. “It’s hard to conform to the different standards; I know that will be my biggest challenge.”
Ritchey explained that the grading requisites are based on standards dictated by Army doctrine for medics. In combat situations, he said, he understands that medics may make adjustments in order to reach the life-saving steps sooner, but the EFMB adheres to doctrinal standards.
“The reason a lot of these medics are finding it tough is because it’s by the book,” Ritchey said. “If we were in combat, you administer field-expedient aid, and you do the things that are going to save lives, but EFMB is by the book, how they’re teaching it in the schoolhouse.”
Following the conclusion of the assessment, 50 Soldiers will be selected to advance into the train-up phase based on their cumulative performance across all events. The train-up phase will provide more thorough training in each event in order to prepare the Warrior medics for the challenges of the EFMB, Ritchey explained.
“It’s going to make them subject matter experts in all these fields, and it’s going to give them hands-on experience doing it to the EFMB standard,” Ritchey said. “This may be the only time they’re trained to this rigorous of a standard.”
The train-up will also serve to prepare each medic for real-world situations in which their medical expertise can potentially save their comrades’ lives, which compounds the importance of maintaining a sharp skill set.
“By keeping their skill set sharp and having this knowledge, when a casualty goes down, they know, by heart, everything they need to do in order to save that casualty’s life,” Ritchey said. “Some of these lanes last an hour and a half, with 13 different tasks, back to back. It’s designed to simulate some of the stresses of combat, testing mind, body and spirit.”
With so much at stake during the EFMB testing, Ritchey said that the medics who earn the badge can walk away with a great sense of accomplishment. The badge represents their capabilities as medics and as Soldiers in the U.S. Army.
“A medic is a Soldier first and a medic second,” Ritchey said. “When they earn that badge, these medics know they are proficient both at their warrior tasks, as well as their medical tasks.”