Talking Points

The Physicians Committee

Improving Military Medicine

Talking Points

Monkey used in military training video; Training on TraumaMan simulator

  • The Department of Defense (DoD) currently uses more than 6,000 pigs and goats every year to teach Army medics, Navy corpsmen, and other military personnel to respond to the most common causes of preventable battlefield fatalities. In these “combat trauma training” courses, military trainees practice procedures including tourniquet application, surgical airway, and chest tube placement. At the end of each course, the animals are killed.
  • The use of animals for this type of training is suboptimal due to, among other reasons, anatomical, biological, and physiological differences between pigs, goats, and humans.

  • In the civilian world, these procedures are taught almost exclusively without the use of animals. Institutions that have made the transition from live animals to high-fidelity simulators have reported a cost savings and a better educational experience for trainees.

  • While the DoD has been responsible for the funding and development of several high-fidelity, human patient simulators, as well as numerous partial-task trainers, it has yet to make full use of its investment by phasing out “live tissue” training in favor of this superior, modern technology.

  • The Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act recognizes the achievements made by the DoD in the field of simulation and requires that the DoD replace the use of “live tissue training” with human-based methods, including high-fidelity simulators, partial task trainers, moulage, simulated combat environments, human cadavers, and rotations in civilian and military trauma centers.