Two CAF members earn coveted expert field medical badge

A Canadian military member kneels behind a wooden pallet in a wooded area, with a rope looped around his right wrist and the attached metal grappling hook in his left hand.
Corporal Charles Long uses a grappling hook to check for booby traps and IEDs around a concertina wire obstacle. Photo: Captain Jerome C. Ferrin, U.S. Army, 30th Medical Brigade

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By Corporal Charles Long

Two Canadian Armed Forces medical technicians earned the coveted expert field medical badge (EFMB) at an event held in Grafenwöhr, Germany from September 17 to 28. A symbol of excellence and proficiency within the United States Army and its NATO allies, candidates must pass a series of tests to earn their badge, which vary from medical and basic soldiering skills to warrior tasks.

Sergeant Shaun Van Koppen, from Canadian Special Operations Regiment, and Corporal Charles Long, of 2 Field Ambulance — both from Garrison Petawawa, Ont. — were the sole Canadians to receive the distinction.

The 2017 U.S. Army Europe Fall EFMB event saw 174 candidates compete, including 17 soldiers from Canada, Austria, Lithuania, Kosovo, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom.

This was the first time in decades that Canada sent soldiers to an EFMB event. The soldiers went through a week of standardization, which prepared them for the following week of testing. They had to prove themselves worthy of the honour to wear the badge, as there was no room for error during testing week.

The few who succeed become part of the three per cent of the U.S. Army medical community who wear the badge, considered one of the hardest special skills badges to obtain in the U.S. Army. This year’s competition was equally difficult, as only 31 candidates earned their badge.

 

Image gallery

  • A Canadian Armed Forces member with purple gloves holds an IV tube.
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