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  1. News Release

  2. Jun 11, 2021

Doctor-Led Demonstration, Ads Urge UW to Stop Using Live Animals for Paramedic Training

Physicians Group Ads Cover UW/Husky Stadium Link Station

SEATTLE—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a national nonprofit with more than 17,000 doctor members—is urging the University of Washington (UW) to end the use of live animals in its paramedic training program. On Thursday morning, the group held a demonstration outside UW Medical Center, where trainees practice cutting open live pigs. Retired paramedic Cindy Coker; Samuel Finn, MD; James Winans, MD, FACS; and members of the public held banners and signs that read “University of Washington: Modern Paramedic Training Requires Modern Methods. FollowTheScience.org.” 

The Physicians Committee also filed a complaint with the USDA and has flooded the UW Link light rail station with 25 ads. The ads feature an ambulance whooshing by and emergency responders practicing a procedure on a human simulator. They share research findings supportive of human-based paramedic training methods, including the fact that simulators mimic the stress of real-world emergencies and allow trainees to build confidence and acquire life-saving skills.

The Physicians Committee’s survey of paramedic training programs shows that all 139 responsive programs west of the Mississippi River exclude live animal use, except for UW. Despite the widespread use of educationally superior nonanimal methods, UW uses live pigs to teach cricothyroidotomy (also known as surgical airway), which involves making an incision in the animal’s neck to insert a breathing tube. The procedure is performed up to six times on each pig; afterwards, they are killed.

UW already has what it needs to end the animal use, at its existing state-of-the-art training centers, including the Seattle-made TraumaMan simulator, which has synthetic skin, subcutaneous fat, and muscle. TraumaMan is endorsed by the American College of Surgeons for trauma training, which includes cricothyroidotomy, and is used by hundreds of Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) programs.

“I learned everything I know from simulators and on-the-job training,” said retired paramedic Cindy Coker, who worked in emergency medical services for 39 years and served as Chairperson of Snohomish County EMS. “There is no need to train paramedics on animals.”

To interview Ms. Coker, for a copy of the USDA complaint, or to see the transit station ad artwork, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at] pcrm.org

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, MPH

202-527-7326

rpohl[at]pcrm.org

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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