The University of Washington uses live pigs to teach a surgical airway procedure to paramedic students, practicing paramedics, and flight nurses.
UW’s program currently instructs trainees to make an incision in the throat of a live pig to insert a breathing tube. This procedure is performed up to six times on each pig. At the end of each training session, the animal is killed. When using pigs to teach surgical airway, a proper procedure can be performed only once. After the first attempt, other participants must practice the procedure on areas of the throat that are not similar to real-life landmarks.
But UW’s simulation center maintains numerous human-based training devices, including the TraumaMan System, which can replace the use of animals immediately. The TraumaMan System, a realistic human body simulator, provides the opportunity to perform a proper surgical airway repeatedly by replacing the “tissue” above the simulated trachea, giving each trainee a “first cut” experience.
Human-based training methods are widely implemented at paramedic training programs across the Pacific Northwest. According to our survey of 16 regional programs, UW’s is the only one using animals.
Please ask UW to end the use of live animals for paramedic training.