Rapid small-arms fire, groans of the wounded and repeated shouts of “Incoming!” were heard before explosions split the forest air Tuesday at the Georgia Garrison Training Center on Fort Stewart. Dense yellow or green fog ringed several pairs of soldier medics as they bent over injured dummies, assessing and treating the fake soldiers’ injuries while senior NCOs and officers graded their performance.
This emergency medical treatment exercise was part of the Southern Regional Medical Command Best Medic Team Selection Competition this week. Winn Army Community Hospital is sponsoring the event.
“So far, so good,” WACH optometrist Capt. Donnie Appleman said. “These candidates are prepared, but they’re unaware of what they will encounter out here.”
Ten two-soldier medic teams from Army installations across the Southeast participated in the regional competition, Appleman said. The winning team will represent the Army’s southern region in the Army-wide best medic competition in November.
During the field emergency medical treatment exercise, medics must show the skills used to keep wounded comrades alive on the battlefield, according to Appleman.
“All of them have the expert field medical badge,” he said. Teams were chosen by their military hospitals or infantry units to compete. Team members have at least three to four years experience as medics, Appleman
“It’s an honor to compete,” Sgt. Ethan Mergentime of Redstone Arsenal, Ala., said. “This will probably be my only chance.”
Medics “treated” soldiers for such serious injuries as shock, gunshot wounds, head trauma and fractures, Appleman said.
Teams took a medical and general military knowledge written test Monday, Winn spokesperson Michelle Gordon said.
Other competition events will include the Army physical fitness test, an obstacle course, day and night land navigation and manual casualty evacuation tasks, Gordon said. She said the competition will end with a timed, 12-mile foot march Friday. Appleman said competing medics will carry a wounded soldier (dummy) the last half mile of the march.
Sgt. Maj. Thomas Wrighton with WACH helped plan and coordinate the competition. Planning took six weeks, he said.
A combat medic who has treated the wounded on the field during his Iraq deployments, Wrighton said medics are “demonstrating their efficiency,” during the competition.