Current Animal-Based Training

The Physicians Committee


Current Animal-Based Training

The use of goats and pigs for combat trauma training, as demonstrated in the videos below, is educationally flawed due to, among other issues, the animals’ anatomical differences from humans. Goats and pigs have smaller limbs and torsos than humans, thicker skin, and different anatomy of the head, neck, and chest—critical differences when trying to translate procedures learned on those species to actual combat situations. The problematic differences in vascular anatomy were well documented in a 2007 Army paper, which stated that “[t]he goat model is not ideal for venous access practice,” resulting in “personnel not having the opportunity to treat other injuries.”

Many of the anatomical differences between species are demonstrated in a video shown to trainees for the Army Medical Department’s Tactical Combat Medical Care course and acquired by the Physicians Committee through the federal Freedom of Information Act. The instructor in the training film repeatedly references significant differences between training on live goats and human casualties.

In the first clip from the training video, the Army instructor describes the difference between practicing the critical life-saving procedure of inserting a chest tube on a live goat and performing that procedure on a human casualty. The instructor says that "[l]andmarks on your human casualty are the fifth or sixth intercostal space [the space between two ribs]… In your animal model you’re going to…use the seventh or eighth intercostal space.”

In the second clip, which is intended to demonstrate how to place a tourniquet and apply pressure during a life-threatening wound to the femoral artery, the assisting soldiers easily lift and hold the goat’s show, thin leg. The small size and low weight of the animal’s leg compared to an adult human’s demonstrate vast anatomical differences.

Tube Thoracostomy with Chest Tube Insertion

Combat Application Tourniquet and Pressure Dressing