Dozens of Bragg soldiers injured in training exercise
Posted September 23, 2011
Updated September 26, 2011
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Forty-three soldiers suffered heat-related injuries Friday morning during a training exercise at Fort Bragg, authorities said.
The soldiers were among 56 taking part in a 12-mile "ruck march" at about 6 a.m. to earn their Expert Field Medical Badge, Fort Bragg spokeswoman Jackie Thomas said. The soldiers, who were from various units, were walking with backpacks, helmets and weapons as if they were in combat, she said.
Eighteen soldiers were taken to Womack Army Medical Center for treatment, and 13 were admitted, she said. One was in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
The other 25 soldiers were treated in the field and released, she said.
The Expert Field Medical Badge qualification involves a series of hands-on tests over two weeks, Thomas said. The tests cover communications, emergency medical treatment, evacuation of the sick and wounded, day and night land navigation courses, CPR and weapons qualification.
Most of the troops taking the test have been front-line medics in the battlefield, said Col. Scott Putzier, commander of the 28th Combat Support Hospital. Close to 200 started in the training two weeks ago, and the class was down to the final 56 by Friday.
"It's a very physical, very grueling test," Putzier said. "The Army average over this past year has been a been a 12 percent pass rate. Due to our results today, we had a 4 percent pass rate."
Fort Bragg spokesman Ben Able said the troops have been training hard in the classroom and the field and were pushing themselves to finish the ruck march within the three-hour time limit when some of them collapsed.
Less than 3 percent of U.S. soldiers have the Expert Field Medical Badge, officials said.
"It is a mark of excellence," Putzier said. "The first word is 'expert,' so it truly marks you as an expert in your craft and in your field."