Three British Army medics serving with 1 Armoured Medical Regiment, based in Paderborn, Germany, are going to take one of the US Army's toughest tests this week in Grafenwöhr, Germany where the 212 Combat Support Hospital of 30 Medical Brigade, is hosting the US Army Europe's 2017 Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) competition.
A total of 215 candidates from 11 countries are striving for this prestigious badge during the five-day challenge where they have to demonstrate exceptional competence and outstanding performance during a gruelling 120-hour testing event.
Second Lieutenant Liam Yeo is one of the three British medics, hoping to earn the US Army’s Expert Field Medical Badge. His capability as a soldier will be scrutinised just as closely as his health professional role.
“The tests are a combination of expert medical skills and also field warrior skills, your typical military skills that you are expected to perform and striking the balance is actually quite difficult," explains Liam.
During testing, candidates are required to exhibit superior physical fitness and mental clarity when faced with life-or-death situations. The testing includes a written exam, combat testing lanes (CTLs), daytime and night-time, land navigation, and a 12-mile road march.
Three testing lanes require Soldiers to complete 42 tasks from four categories: tactical combat casualty care, evacuation, communication and warrior skills. An evaluator shadows each candidate, judging their reactions and their performance of each task without giving any feedback.
Private Mark Mcrea, who is also serving with 1 Armoured Medical Regiment, says: “I’ve done a lot of revision and practise last week. It’s probably more green skills than medical skills, for example learning how to operate American radios. I’ve learnt a lot of new stuff, that’s for sure. It’s a challenge but I look forward to it.”
With only a 10-20 percent pass rate, the Expert Field Medical Badge is of the most prestigious and coveted awards a medical professional can obtain in the Army. It is a symbol of excellence, an outward sign of technical and tactical proficiency. Simply performing steps in the wrong order, forgetting to check a pulse or not marking a T on a casualty’s forehead after applying a tourniquet will cause a Soldier to fail a task. Soldiers who fail a certain number of tasks from any category are eliminated immediately.
Private Aaron Eastman from 1 Armoured Medical Regiment decided to go for the Expert Field Medical Badge only last month. This is the first time that he has worked with medics from other Armies. That experience alone, he says, has made the trip already worth it. “They use equipment we don’t have and other processes of loading casualties onto equipment that we don’t use. All of this will be useful for the future, especially as we are more likely to work on future deployments together in multinational teams.”