From: MSgt. Maurice B. Rogers, IDMT (Ret.)
When I was training to be a Special Operations medic, I had to surgically access the veins on a live animal and insert a chest tube between the ribs and into the chest cavity. Who would have guessed that more than 20 years later, military training courses would still rely on crude animal-based methods that include shooting and burning live animals?
After my training, I remained a medic until the day I retired, but I never looked back at the live animal training as a useful experience. And today, the argument for replacing animal use in these courses is even stronger. Yet the Department of Defense (DoD) continues to use animals.
In September 2011, the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group at Fort Meade, Md., paid the company SIMMEC Training Solutions $132,160 to shoot more than 100 live animals so military personnel could practice emergency medical procedures in training sessions spread out over one year. Based on what we know about similar Army courses, the animals were also likely burned and had multiple limbs amputated. Then the animals were killed. SIMMEC failed to provide a veterinarian for one of the training sessions—a violation of its contract and the DoD’s animal use policy. But the Army unit never reported the violation, which is itself a violation. My colleagues at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine learned this through the federal Freedom of Information Act.
I want the DoD Office of the Inspector General to know that these violations could have easily been avoided by using human-based training methods.
One such method is a device that’s worn by an actor and replicates the experience of performing emergency medical procedures on a living human trauma patient—not a pig or goat. Trainees can apply tourniquets, control severe bleeding, and manage collapsed lungs. This simulator also teaches extremity hemorrhage clamping, surgical incisions to the abdominal cavity, hemorrhage control of organs, and suturing or stapling of organs and skin. But it’s not the only option. Other training devices feature lifelike skin, anatomically correct organs, breakable bones, and realistic blood flow.
Please join me in asking the Office of the Inspector General to investigate violations by the Army and SIMMEC. Add your name here, and I’ll present it to the DoD when I file the petition later this month.