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Army’s Best Medic Competition at JBLM

Staff Sgt. Philip Matherly and Staff Sgt. Claevon Salter, Dwight D. Eisenhower Medical Center, work on a simulated casualty during the Army Best Medic Competition. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Last Wednesday afternoon, an explosion behind a concrete enclosure at Training Area 4 captured the attention of 58 soldiers comprising 28 teams in the 25th iteration of the Army's Best Medic Competition.

The Force on Force/Prolonged Field Care portion of the 72-hour competition had begun.

Standing in a clearing, Col. Aric Bowman, operations officer, Regional Health Command-Pacific, watched as the teams received their instructions.

"There are a couple of new additions to the competition," he said, "and they will make the competition more demanding."

Hosted by Army Medical Command and conducted by Regional Health Command-Pacific, this is the first time the competition was held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

It was open to all active-duty, Army National Guard and Army Reserve medical soldiers who had earned either the competitive Combat Medical Badge or Expert Field Medical Badge.

As the teams moved out, Staff Sgt. Claevon Salter and Staff Sgt. Philip Matherly, representing the Dwight D. Eisenhower Medical Center, headed down lane three.

Approximately 300 meters later, they found two wounded soldiers.

Matherly quickly assessed and bandaged the hand wound of the first soldier as Salter evaluated a more severely wounded simulated soldier.

"It's going to take both of us," he yelled to Matherly. "This is going to be tough."

Suffering from a gunshot wound, a fractured left leg and numerous cuts, the medics carefully treated the simulated soldier before beginning the move to safety.

Moving back down the lane, gunfire rang out. Salter and two other soldiers dropped and returned fire; Matherly covered the patient with his body.

Recovering and moving again, the medics stopped to administer further aid, which was made more difficult as yellow smoke enveloped them.

When Matherly and Salter reached a casualty collection point, or CCP, they grounded their simulated wounded soldier next to a live patient on a litter.

That's when they were told to assess and care for him. He would be Matherly and Salter's patient for the next 12 hours.

"In the past they would have cared for a simulated casualty," continued Bowman, "but in this new addition to the competition, they now have a live patient to care for the next 12 hours."

And then there was another new addition.

Both medics would at some point during the night be introduced to a wounded 50-pound canine medical trainer.

"They are going to have to treat and care for it as they would any other soldier," added Bowman.

As darkness began to creep into the training area, Matherly and Salter used their time, talents and available resources to keep their patient safe, warm and alive.

"Everyone you see here is well prepared," Staff Sgt. Manuel Sanchez, 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, commented.

"These medics are the best of the best."

The top three teams are as follows:

1st Place: 7th ID's Sgt. Manuel Sanchez and Spc. Jared Gamble

2nd Place: 8th Army's Capt. Seth Prosser and Capt. Michael Pikul

3rd Place: 82nd Airborne's Sgt. Aaron Tolson and Sgt. Tyler Fisher

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