Combat Trauma Training at Hurlburt Field Uses and Kills Live Pigs; 98 Percent of Civilian Courses Use Simulators
MARY ESTHER, Fla.—Lt. Col. William Morris, M.D. (ret), a neurosurgeon who served 20 years in the U.S. Army, has filed a Petition for Enforcement against the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. At issue is the use of live animals for combat trauma training at Hurlburt Field in Florida. John J. Pippin, M.D., of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, co-signed the legal petition with Dr. Morris.
Trauma training typically involves amputating the legs of pigs or goats and forcing tubes and needles into their bodies. This practice is inferior to the more advanced human-based simulation methods. For instance, the Cut Suit, an interactive suit worn by an actor who mimics an injured soldier, was specifically designed for combat trauma training courses.
In their Petition for Enforcement, Drs. Morris and Pippin write, “The current unnecessary use and killing of animals in an Air Force Special Operations Command combat trauma training course constitutes a serious violation of the DoD instruction regarding animal use, due to the availability of superior human-based training methods."
The Air Force’s Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills uses simulators and human cadavers; the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa, Japan, “relies on lifelike, robotic mannequins” to conduct trauma courses; and 98 percent of civilian hospitals only use nonanimal methods to teach similar lifesaving skills.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.