FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- Close to 160 “Big Red One” soldiers started out vying for one of the Army’s most prestigious badges at Fort Riley on April 30th and eleven days later, only 24 were left standing.
Two dozen Army medical professionals were awarded their Expert Field Medical Badges on Thursday, May 10th after an intense training and testing period. Big Red One" soldiers from Fort Riley, Fort Knox and Fort Sill took part in the grueling competition. It has been almost a decade since the event was held at Fort Riley. The graduation ceremony was held at Fort Riley on Thursday, May 10th. Crowds gathered as the remaining candidates received their badges.
Testing included a written test, combat trauma lanes, day and night land navigation and a 12-mile road march in full gear. The road march determined the final badge holders in the competition.
The combat trauma lanes allowed candidates to experience possible real-world scenarios of a combat environment and measured how soldiers provide patient care in a stressful and dangerous environment. They were evaluated and timed on each task by soldiers who have already earned their expert badges.
“This is a highly coveted badge, especially for the Army medical department. They’ve been through a rigorous train-up period and a testing period which has lasted all week, looking at all kind of areas of medical expertise, the fundamentals of medical training and demonstrating their capabilities in those skill sets. These graduates have really been through the ringer here this past week but they’ve been working for a long time to achieve this badge and it’s a significant achievement for them. It means that they have obtained an expert level in the fundamentals and common skill sets we require our medical soldiers to possess so they can take care of soldiers on the battlefield,” said Major General Richard Thomas, Commanding General of the Western Regional Medical Command. Major General Thomas spoke during the ceremony and pinned the badges on each graduate, congratulating them on their accomplishment.
"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.
"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.
Specialist Julie Beebe, an Army medic from Fort Knox, was the only female soldier who received her Expert Field Medical Badge this time around.
“I’m tired right now and want to go home but I’m very happy to have completed it. It was an experience for sure. I feel great that I got the badge. It was good training. Some of the challenges included learning new skills and studying for the tests but it was great getting to know new people from the division here at Fort Riley,” she said.