Choose a better way to teach medicine
An Army training program involves shooting pigs so soldiers can learn to treat injuries.
Impressive strides have been made in simulating combat injuries for training armed-forces personnel in medical treatment, but live pigs still are being used to teach soldiers to treat gunshot wounds. The 25th Infantry Division has engaged in such training without adequately explaining why it hasn't opted for the current technology.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has protested the shooting of pigs in a medical trauma exercise with M16A2 and M4 rifles at Schofield Barracks. Maj. Derrick Cheng, spokesman for the division, said, "We wouldn't do this training if we didn't think it was truly necessary."
That opinion is questioned within the military. "We have evidence to suggest more vibrant ways are more effective to learn" than practicing on animals, said Gerald Moses, chief of the Army Telemedicine and Advanced Research Center at Fort Detrick, Md., four years ago.
Even then, digitally enhanced mannequins simulating illness and injury and responding to treatment had been accepted training devices in the military, according to Military Medical Technology, an independent magazine. The high-tech mannequins breathe, blink their eyes, have pulses and even simulate death.
The military began using computer-enhanced mannequins in 1998 under the congressionally mandated Combat Trauma Patient Simulation program. By 2006, the Defense Department reported more than 3,500 medics and corpsmen had been trained with simulators.
PETA said it learned of the activity at Schofield Barracks from a soldier who was "distraught" about the plan to release the pigs in a field to be shot.
Cheng said last week that the soldiers would learn emergency lifesaving skills needed on the battlefield in the absence of medics, doctors or a medical facility. That should be accomplished without killing pigs or other animals.
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