FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- "Big Red One" soldiers from Fort Riley, Fort Knox and Fort Sill are putting their skills to the test over the next two weeks in an effort to earn one of the Army's most coveted badges.
More than 160 soldiers in the medical field are training and testing at Fort Riley this week and next week. The Army medical professionals are striving to be awarded the Expert Field Medical Badge.
Testing includes a written test, combat trauma lanes, day and night land navigation and a 12-mile road march in full gear.
The combat trauma lanes allow candidates to experience possible real-world scenarios of a combat environment and measures how soldiers provide patient care in a stressful and dangerous environment. They are evaluated and timed on each task by soldiers who have already earned their expert badges.
"The Expert Field Medical Badge is a very, very prestigious badge within the medical community. Less than thirty percent of all medical personnel that try for this badge ever earn it," said Sergeant First Class David Meditz, the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge.
"To earn this badge, the soldiers have to do a multitude of different tasks. They have to do Tactical Combat Casualty Care which basically is our care on the battlefield. It’s how our soldiers take care of the wounded soldiers that are out there. They have to prove that they not only know how to do these tasks but that they’re experts in their field. In addition to those tasks, they also have what are known as warrior skills. The warrior skills are our standard soldier skills- disassembling weapons, putting weapons back together, disassembling and putting back together radios, also moving under fire, moving in relationship to indirect fire. They also have to do communication skills. They have to know how to do a Medevac request, they have to know how to load our security communication setups within our radios, they have to know how to perform nuclear, biological and chemical contamination reports…We also have to know how to send forward exploded ordinance or unexploded ordinance and IED reports. And the last thing they do and one of the most important things they do is their evacuation skills. They have to know how load and triage patients to get them into a multitude of different evacuation assets, including trucks, ambulances and helicopters," Meditz explained.
Private First Class Jesse Venable, a candidate for the badge, is deploying to Afghanistan in two weeks and said the testing is helping him prepare for his deployment.
"It’s pretty demanding, tiring as you can probably see and it gets really hot but all in all it’s for a good cause to save your battle buddy out there in the war zone, don’t want anybody to die, you want everybody to come home so it’s definitely great training and it's intense. It’s prestigious. It’s more for myself to know that I’m competent, I’m capable, I’m continuing to learn and better myself in my job skill and it just looks good. If you have it, you have bragging rights in the Army," he said.
"All of our medical soldiers both enlisted and officers can participate and try to earn this badge. All of their jobs are in the medical field. They could be medical supply, medics, nurses, lab techs, medical service corps officers that are in charge of our medical platoons. All of the soldiers out here are medically related. We even have soldiers out here from veterinary command and from our dental command," Sergeant First Class Meditz told WIBW.
"Sometime during these two weeks, they’re going to be pushed to their absolute limit. When they’re pushed to their absolute limit, you’re going to find out who has heart and heart is what it takes to earn this badge. They’re going to be ready to quit and those soldiers that have the heart, those soldiers that are truly experts in their field, they will continue forward and those are the soldiers that we’re going to see on graduation day,' he added.
All of the candidates will remain in the field throughout the two weeks of training.
The graduation ceremony will be held on May 10, 2012. The event is being hosted by Fort Riley and Irwin Army Community Hospital.