At the University of Washington (UW), live animals are used to train paramedics and flight nurses. Trainees make an incision in the throat of a pig and insert a breathing tube. This procedure is performed up to six times by multiple trainees on each pig. At the end of each session, the animals are killed. However, emergency airway management is routinely taught in other paramedic, emergency medicine, and trauma programs using purpose-designed human simulators which allow trainees to repeatedly perform procedures and hone their technique. UW’s animal use is providing substandard and inhumane training to Washington’s paramedics, nurses, and emergency medical technicians.
Nonanimal training methods are widely implemented at paramedic training programs across the Pacific Northwest. In addition, 99 percent of Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) programs in the United States and Canada (274 of 276) do not use animals for the training of surgical airway or any other skills. In 2015, after careful review the Department of Defense ended the use of animals for military ATLS training, stating that simulation is suitable to replace animal use.
In fact, UW already has a state-of-the-art simulation center—the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies—with simulators that could replace the use of animals in paramedic training immediately.
Despite the availability of these human-based nonanimal methods, UW chooses to continue the inhumane practice of using live animals to train paramedics. Please take action and ask the UW Board of Regents to use its authority to end the use of animals in the university’s paramedic training program by making the switch to human-based simulation.