Improving Military Medicine

The Physicians Committee

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Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills

The Air Force’s Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS) program exemplifies how effective trauma training can be achieved by combined use of simulators, human cadavers, and civilian trauma centers.

At centers in St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Baltimore, C-STARS courses teach chest tube insertion using simulators, fasciotomy using cadavers, and a number of other procedures under supervision on live human patients who enter trauma centers with severe injuries.




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Tell Congress to pass the BEST Practices Act

Call your representative today and urge him or her to co-sponsor the BEST Practices Act (H.R. 1095). This bill would improve medical training for military service members by phasing out the use of animals in combat trauma courses.

Call the Capitol switchboard at 1-202-224-3121. The switchboard operator will connect you with the office you request. You can simply tell the operator where you live and ask to be connected to your representative’s office.

When you call, please be polite and encouraging. Here are some talking points:

  • I am calling as your constituent to urge you to co-sponsor the BEST Practices Act (H.R. 1095).
  • The BEST Practices Act would modernize military medical training by replacing the use of animals with human-relevant simulators.
  • These simulators are superior to using animals and are already used by many military institutions, the civilian sector, and by other countries.
  • Each year, more than 8,500 goats and pigs are shot, stabbed, burned, and amputated in military training courses despite more modern, effective methods.

After you call, send an e-mail to your House member and senators.

The U.S. Department of Defense continues to train medical personnel in combat trauma courses using animals despite the widespread availability of human-relevant methods such as simulators. The animals—more than 8,500 goats and pigs each year—are subjected to severe injuries, including stab wounds, gunshot wounds, burns, and amputations, before being killed.

Thankfully, former military personnel are speaking out about it. Also, federal lawmakers are taking action. To ask your members of Congress to support legislation that would phase in human-based training methods, click here.

It’s clear that using animals in this training isn’t necessary, and 98 percent of civilian trauma programs agree. The vast majority of civilian trauma training programs no longer use animals, instead opting for high-tech, modern simulators to teach the exact same procedures that military personnel still learn on animals.

Many trauma centers in the Army, Air Force, and Navy use only simulators. DOD’s medical school, Uniformed Services University, stopped using animals in 2013. In 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard committed to reducing by half the number of animals it uses for combat trauma training exercises. Further, as of 2015, Advanced Trauma Life Support courses across the U.S. military were no longer allowed to use animals.

Our service members deserve the highest quality care, and those who come to their aid on the battlefield deserve first-rate training. Practicing on pigs and goats, who differ from humans on many essential anatomical levels, is not the answer. To read more about the military’s current training methods and the educational problems related to them, click here.


Medical training devices including simulators are based on human anatomy. Trainees can cut through lifelike human skin, fat, and muscle. These simulators’ limbs more accurately replicate the weight and feeling of the human body. And unlike anesthetized animals, high-tech simulators can move and respond. They also allow trainees to practice procedures repeatedly until they get them right. To read more about these human-based methods, click here.