Combat Trauma Training

The Physicians Committee
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Improving Military Medicine

GET INVOLVED: If you serve in the military and would like to learn more or get involved, contact us at rmerkley@pcrm.org.

Combat Trauma Training

Goat used in military training videoAs the U.S. fights two wars, it is essential that the military medical training our service members receive is the best that is available. Unfortunately, despite making impressive strides in the development and utilization of training and troop protection methods, the U.S. military is still relying on the use of goats and pigs to teach medical procedures.

Currently, the U.S. military uses live animals in combat trauma training. In some of these courses:

  • The legs of live goats are amputated one by one to cause severe hemorrhaging.

  • Live pigs have their throats cut open to create a surgical airway.

  • Plastic tubes are inserted between the ribs of pigs and into the chest cavity.

improve-military-medicine

Replacing the use of goats and pigs in combat trauma training courses is imperative to ensure that our troops receive the most effective training before deploying to combat zones. Ensuring that trauma education and training are most effective for treating human injuries requires phasing in a combination of human-based training methods.

Luckily, Congress realizes change must happen. In the 112th Congress (2011-2012), legislation was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives that would phase in human-based training methods and replace the current use of live animals in these military medical training courses. While these bills did not pass, in December 2012, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which included language requiring the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress by March 1, 2013, on a strategy, including a detailed timeline, for replacing the use of animals with human-based methods.

Both as a matter of troop readiness and humane medical practice, the U.S. military must modernize its medical teaching methods and phase in the use human-based methods in place of live animals.