NEWS | Dec. 28, 2016

Top medics compete to win

By Sgt. Jonathan Fernandez U.S. Army Central

Fifty-five competed. Thirty-nine completed. Only one was named champion. Combat medics under U.S. Army Central, stationed in Kuwait, competed in the Top Medic Competition hosted by 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Dec. 17-19.

The tiring, stressful 36-hour competition tested the Soldiers’ basic warrior skills, job-specific proficiency and overall physical strength and endurance. It consisted of three ruck marches, the Army’s 1946 physical fitness test, medical assessment and care lanes, electronic firing ranges, written tests and land navigation.

The competition was tight from the beginning, said 1st Lt. Nick Coffey, one of the masterminds behind the competition.

“We strove to design a gender-neutral, grueling competition with 18 events to find out who was the most well-rounded medic,” he said. “Anybody could have won.”

The prizes for first, second and third place were an Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and a Certificate of Achievement, respectively. 

The winner, a squad leader in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3-1 AD was Staff Sgt. Miriam Reyes, a native of Yuma, Arizona.

When it was put out that ‘at least one from first squad should go,’ she said, “Let’s go kick some ass. Because, we as [noncommissioned officers] lead from the front.”

On top of winning the competition, Reyes was often seen motivating members of her unit that were also competing.

Coffey, a battalion physician’s assistant in 2nd Brigade Engineering Battalion and native of Snohomish, Washington, created the competition, with 1st Lt. Christopher Torres, a battalion physician’s assistant with 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, with the intent of instilling esprit-de-corps within the medics, building confidence and competence in their skill craft, and ensuring tactical and technical proficiency. 

“We don’t always get to do things like this,” said Spc. Lilimae Cobb at the start of the competition. “I see a lot of learning ahead in the competition.”

Cobb, a combat medic in 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery and native of Canyon Lake, Texas, was one of the original 55 competitors in the event.

“This is a good competition for those preparing for the Expert Field Medical Badge,” she said.

Emphasizing the Army’s number one priority, Coffey said medics must maintain a high level of readiness to ensure their fellow Soldiers remain alive and well on the battlefield.

“This competition highlights that medics need to be ready to execute at all times,’ he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re tired. It doesn’t matter if you’re cold. It doesn’t matter if you’re hungry. At any time, anything can happen.”