CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — Practice makes perfect, and for six Multinational Battle Group-East soldiers, they will need all the practice they can get for one of the most rigorous tests military medical professionals can endure.
The soldiers participated in a training event for the U.S. Army’s Expert Field Medical Badge at Camp Bondsteel on Aug. 9-10, before heading to Grafenwoehr, Germany, to experience the real event.
The badge distinguishes medical personnel and has a slim pass rate. Capt. Ashley Bradley, a nurse with the 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 1st Medical Brigade, hopes going through this training beforehand will prepare her for what lies ahead.
“This train-up before the real thing is very beneficial because it has helped me identify some of my weaknesses,” Bradley said. “Some of things I thought I could just jump out there and do, but that’s not the case.”
On the first day, soldiers conducted a day and night land navigation course, treated and extracted casualties from a vehicle, reacted to direct and indirect fire and called in an aerial medical evacuation.
The second day continued to test their mental and physical skills, with a written test and a full lane of simulated casualties with various injuries, each of which had to be treated and evacuated within a certain time limit.
“For a lot of the candidates it’s their first time going through the (badge),” said Staff Sgt. Erik Serrato, a preventive medicine specialist and badge holder. “We wanted to give them a realistic feel of how the lanes are going to be in Germany.”
“The lanes were set up to ... standards and are to test against each task,” he said. “We wanted to test them under pressure and test their knowledge.”
Bradley said it is a privilege to have an opportunity to earn the badge, and she said she can’t wait to get to Germany to give it a try.
“I think the badge is a very prestigious thing to earn, especially in my field of work,” Bradley said. “It’s a great accomplishment to earn because it’s hard.”