"No animal model can adequately duplicate the anatomy and physiology of injuries inflicted upon the human body in war."
—Michael P. Murphy, M.D., associate professor of surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2004, 2007), and medical general counsel for Iraq War Veterans Organization
In April 2009, USA Today reported: "Military researchers have dressed live pigs in body armor and strapped them into Humvee simulators that were then blown up with explosives to study the link between roadside bomb blasts and brain injury. . . . The next round of the testing is scheduled for later this year."
The military's past animal experiments have failed soldiers miserably. Previous military experiments on a treatment for severe blood hemorrhaging using QuikClot found a 100 percent survival rate in pigs, but the treatment was completely ineffective in the field and resulted in the tragic deaths of brave soldiers.
Instead of using animals, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) should follow the lead of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, which has developed a computer simulation that models the motion of a blast wave using data gathered from laboratory experiments with sensor-studded human mannequins.
As a voter in your district, I am writing to ask that you co-sponsor H.R. 4269, the BEST Practices Act, a bill that will improve military medical training by phasing in human-based training methods.
America's troops deserve the best medical treatment. Unfortunately, the personnel responsible for treating battlefield injuries are receiving suboptimal education because the U.S. military relies on the use of animals. In some combat trauma training courses, an instructor cuts a live goat with a scalpel to create traumatic wounds that cause severe bleeding. In chemical casualty care courses, vervet monkeys are given a toxic dose of the drug physostigmine, which can induce seizures, diarrhea, and death.
H.R. 4269, the BEST Practices Act will phase in the use of human-based methods for combat trauma training and chemical casualty courses within three years. It requires the superior education and preparation of military personnel through the use of state-of-the-art medical simulators, immersion in civilian and military trauma centers, and other human-based methods.
Please co-sponsor the BEST Practices Act now to ensure optimal medical training for our military.