Blood, Breakable Bones Show Congress Benefits of Trauma Training Simulators
A bleeding soldier screamed in pain. But he was actually an actor wearing a Cut Suit with artificial blood and reusable organs. The suit allows trainees to perform lifesaving procedures while interacting with a human. It was one of the devices at a recent PCRM event that showed Congress how replacing animals with simulators can improve the military’s care of wounded service members.
Members of Congress, Hill staff, and members of the public got hands-on demonstrations from simulator manufacturers and a chance to talk with experts about the need for a new paradigm in combat trauma training.
Congressman Bob Filner, D-Calif., spoke about the bill he introduced. The Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training Practices Act, or BEST Practices Act, would help the military replace animal use with real-world, human-based methods that would ensure all troops receive first-rate medical care.
“I wouldn't want you operating on me if you've only operated on a pig,” said Robert F. Buckman Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., founder of simulator maker Operative Experience, Inc., when talking about how animal use in trauma training cannot compare to the superior training a simulator provides.
The military currently injures goats and pigs in combat trauma training courses. The legs of live goats are amputated one by one to cause severe hemorrhaging. Pigs have their throats cut open to create a surgical airway. Plastic tubes are inserted between the ribs of pigs and into the chest cavity. This use of animals is cruel. It is also suboptimal due to the anatomical differences from humans.
Christopher Sakezles, Ph.D., president and chief technology officer of SynDaver Labs, discussed cost savings associated with using simulators instead of live animals: “Our ultimate goal is the replacement of live animals and human cadavers in surgical training and medical device development tests with synthetic products that are less expensive than the relevant animal or human model.”
To ask your member of Congress to support the BEST Practices Act, visit BetterMilitaryMedicine.org.