Senate Introduces Bill to Save Animals and Improve Military Medical Training
The Senate recently introduced the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act, a bill that would phase in human-based training methods and phase out the use of live animals in the military’s combat trauma training courses. This legislation was introduced following PCRM briefings that included hands-on demonstrations of simulators built primarily for military use.
The Cut Suit, for example, was specifically designed for combat trauma training courses, replicating a living trauma patient. Body armor and a uniform can be worn by the patient actor and trainees can apply tourniquets, control severe bleeding, and manage collapsed lungs.
Like the House version of the bill, S. 3418 provides a framework for the Department of Defense to make a swift transition to simulation. In standardized trauma training courses taught at civilian medical centers, simulation is already the standard.
The BEST Practices Act contains a three-year timeline for the development and validation of human-based simulation technology, and a two-year timeline for its implementation. This timeline was based on the findings outlined in a 2009 DOD report that states that methods of replacing live animal-based training for all “high volume/high value” procedures should be available by 2014.
Currently, trainees in military combat trauma training courses are taught using anesthetized pigs and goats. The animals are subjected to severe injuries, including stab wounds, gunshot wounds, burns, and amputations, before being killed. More than 7,500 pigs and goats suffer this fate each year, despite the existence of nonanimal alternatives. These animals provide a suboptimal training experience because of the vast anatomical differences between animals and humans.