SEATTLE—On Thursday, physicians and a paramedic will address the University of Washington’s Board of Regents meeting and testify against the school’s use of live animals in its paramedic training program to teach surgical airway. Immediately following the public comment period, a demonstration of the TraumaMan System human body simulator, which could replace the use of animals, will take place nearby.
The TraumaMan System is the most widely used surgical simulator in the world and was created by Seattle-based Simulab. TraumaMan features lifelike human skin, subcutaneous fat, muscle, simulated blood flow, and an articulating head.
WHAT: Doctors to testify at UW Board of Regents against the university’s use of animals for medical training, followed by a live demonstration of human body medical device TraumaMan.
WHEN: Thursday, May 12, at 12:45 p.m.; live simulation demonstration begins at 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Board of Regents meeting, University of Washington, the Petersen Room, Allen Library; Live simulation demo will take place outside of the Student Union Building/The HUB (a three-minute walk from the meeting).
- Eric Cooper, M.D., Clinical Instructor of Medicine in the UW Emergency Department and Medical Program Director for Snohomish County Emergency Medical Services, will testify at the meeting and will perform the simulation demonstration.
- Paramedic Cindy Coker, Medical Services Administrator for Monroe Fire District No. 3, will testify at the meeting.
- William Morris, M.D., Chief of Neurosurgery, MultiCare Health System, Tacoma, Wash., will testify at the meeting.
“The University of Washington needs to end its use of live animals and modernize its paramedic training program,” says Eric Cooper, M.D., F.A.C., E.P., “Alternatives that are widely used by other programs provide better training to paramedics and could easily and immediately replace animals.”
UW’s paramedic course is the only one in the Pacific Northwest known to use animals among 16 responsive programs—all other courses use human-based medical simulators. Meanwhile, 99 percent of Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) programs in the United States and Canada (275 of 277) do not use animals for the training of surgical airway or any other skills. In addition, as of Jan. 2015 the Department of Defense ended the use of animals for military ATLS training.
Despite the widespread availability of more effective alternatives, UW uses live pigs to teach surgical airway to paramedic students, practicing paramedics, and flight nurses. The procedure involves making an incision in the neck to insert a breathing tube and is performed up to six times by multiple trainees on each pig. Surgical airway is widely taught on a variety of realistic human body simulators, such as TraumaMan. At UW, the Institute for Simulation in Healthcare maintains simulators and task trainers—including TraumaMan–that could replace the use of pigs.
The day of the meeting and simulation demonstration, the Physicians Committee will release a white paper: “Surgical Airway Training in the 21st Century: The Case for Replacing Animal Use in the University of Washington Paramedic Program.”
For a copy of the oral testimony from Dr. Morris, Dr. Cooper, and Cindy Coker, a copy of the white paper on surgical airway training, or to interview a physician, please contact Dania DePas at 202-527-7382 or DDePas@PCRM.org.
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 and medical training.