New studies presented at the Military Health System Research Symposium—the Department of Defense’s (DOD) “premier scientific meeting”—in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last week show what PETA has been saying all along: Modern simulators teach lifesaving battlefield medical skills as well as—or better than—cutting up and killing pigs, goats, and other animals. These findings include:
- A DOD-funded study at the University of Minnesota has found that medics who were taught hemorrhage control and other emergency medical procedures on human simulators were as proficient as those who were taught using animals and that both methods produced similar degrees of stress in trainees.
- A DOD-funded study conducted by the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan has concluded that medical staff who were taught pediatric intubation skills on simulators were more proficient than those who trained on live cats.
- A Canadian Forces Health Services study has found that a life-like human patient simulator was as effective as using a live animal to teach traumatic injury management to military medical technicians.
Earlier this year, U.S. Air Force researchers published a study showing that human patient simulators taught lifesaving skills as well as using animals did.
In light of these definitive results, PETA has sent a letter to Secretary Chuck Hagel renewing its call on the DOD to stop shooting, stabbing, and blowing up animals in Cold War era training drills.
PETA brought nationwide attention to this issue in 2012, when it released video footage that showed a U.S. military trauma training course in which goats were moaning and kicking as instructors stabbed them, hacked off their limbs with tree trimmers, and yanked out their internal organs.
After PETA’s video was released, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Coast Guard announced that they were scaling back the use of animals in trauma training exercises. But the DOD continues to disregard its own regulations—which require the use of non-animal training methods whenever they’re available—and refuses to stop using animals in trauma training exercises.
The DOD should follow the example of its NATO allies, most of which have ended the use of animals in medical training exercises. Only six out of 28 NATO nations still use animals in military medical training—the U.S. being one of those six nations.
What You Can Do
Urge the DOD to heed its own research and take animals out of its training drills by implementing humane, effective, and economical training methods that better prepare our troops to treat wounded soldiers.