Senate Introduces Bill to Save Animals and Improve Military Medical Training
Last week, the Senate introduced the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act, a bill that would phase in human-based simulators and phase out the use of live animals in combat trauma training courses. This legislation was introduced following PCRM briefings on the issue that included hands-on demonstrations of medical simulators built primarily for military use. To keep the bill moving forward, ask your senators to co-sponsor S. 3418.
Like the House version of the bill, S. 3418, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), provides a framework for the Department of Defense to make a swift, responsible transition to simulation. In standardized trauma training courses taught at civilian medical centers, simulation is already the overwhelming standard.
Currently, trainees in military combat trauma training courses are taught using anesthetized pigs and goats. But these animals provide a suboptimal and outdated training experience because of the vast anatomical differences between animals and humans. If not already dead by the end of the course, the animals are killed. More than 6,000 pigs and goats suffer this fate each year, despite the existence of validated, nonanimal alternatives.
The BEST Practices Act contains a three-year timeline for the development and validation of human-based simulation technology, most of which is currently available, and a two-year timeline for its implementation. This timeline was based on the findings outlined in a 2009 DOD report that states that methods of replacing live animal-based training for all "high volume/high value" procedures should be available by 2014.
To learn more about the issue and ask your senators to co-sponsor the bill S.3418, visit BetterMilitaryMedicine.org.