The BEST Practices Act would phase out animal-based combat trauma training and replace it with superior methods.
The men and women who serve in the U.S. military deserve the best medical training possible. Yet the Department of Defense (DOD) continues to train personnel in combat trauma courses using animals when superior human-relevant methods are widely available.
The animals—more than 8,500 goats and pigs each year—are often stabbed, shot with firearms, burned, and have their limbs amputated before being killed. The use of animals in this training is unnecessary and has been phased out of nearly all civilian trauma programs and an increasing number of military training centers, which now use high-tech simulators modeled on human anatomy to teach the procedures that some military personnel still learn on animals.
While most of the civilian sector and some military training centers have already transitioned to human-based methods for teaching the treatment of severe trauma, overall the U.S. military lags behind. Many trauma centers in the Army, Air Force, and Navy use only simulators. DOD’s medical school, Uniformed Services University, stopped using animals in 2013. In 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended animal use for combat trauma training. Further, as of 2015, Advanced Trauma Life Support courses across the U.S. military were no longer allowed to use animals.
The Air Force’s Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS) program exemplifies how effective trauma training can be achieved by combined use of simulators, human cadavers, and civilian trauma centers. At centers in St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Baltimore, C-STARS courses teach chest tube insertion using simulators, fasciotomy using cadavers, and a number of other procedures under supervision on live human patients who enter trauma centers with severe injuries.
If you serve or have served in the military and would like to work with us to modernize training, please contact us at rmerkley [at] pcrm.org.
Cut Suit Simulator
The Human Worn Partial Task Surgical Simulator (known as the “Cut Suit”) is a training device worn by a human actor.
Help End Military Combat Trauma Training on Goats
Urge your members of Congress to co-sponsor the BEST Practices Act.
Trauma F/X Simulators and Task Trainers
This is a line of rugged trauma training manikins built with state-of-the-art special effects technology.