Military Should Use Animals For Medical Training

| by Mark Jones
U.S. Army soldiers prepare for emergency medical treatment in AfghanistanU.S. Army soldiers prepare for emergency medical treatment in Afghanistan

To save the lives of U.S. troops injured on missions, the military should continue to use animals for medical and trauma treatment training.

For years, the military has used animals, primarily pigs and goats, for what's known as live tissue trauma training. The Journal of Military and Veterans' Health describes LTTT as a valuable practice that allows medics to simulate injuries caused by fighting in wars today.  

Medics, both military and civilian responders, must know how to treat wounds of soldiers found in times of crisis when seconds can make the difference between life and death. Because modern weapons can have effects unlike those seen in any other setting, proper treatment training simulations are necessary.

Clearly, this training cannot be done on live humans. The solution: testing on animals.

With LTTT, the injury or wound that medics wish to simulate is inflicted upon an anesthetized animal. After undergoing simulated treatments, the animal is euthanized, without feeling any pain.

Of course, animal rights activists lobby against this and similar training methods.

In response, the Department of Defense has started a movement to phase out the use of animals in LTTT by incorporating human-shaped dummies to teach as many of the simulations as possible.  Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, told the Military Times that “new technologies and training techniques afford us opportunities to reduce our dependence on live animals.”

Unfortunately, an important element of training is lost when simulations lack the “live” aspect.

In an opinion piece for The Washington Times, former Special Forces member Jim Hanson notes that seeing human beings with traumatic injuries incites a level of shock in doctors, nurses and EMS professionals who have not witnessed battle wounds. Some sort of live training is necessary to help individuals in training learn to cope with the emotional shock before facing an actual treatment situation.

The U.S. is responsible for the safety and security of every citizen. Soldiers serving in combat give up certain rights and securities daily. They know that they are risking their lives to protect other Americans. This does not mean the U.S. has the right to stop caring for their human lives.

The government and the military must do everything in their control to preserve the lives of those serving in  combat and other dangerous situations. This includes ensuring that medical professionals treating wounded soldiers have the best and most expansive training possible before treating victims.

The devastating reality of military medical training is that animals must sacrifice their lives to save the maximum number of wounded soldiers. Although activists argue that animal testing is cruel, it is hard to argue against the preservation of human lives.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Military Times, The Washington Times, JMVH / Photo credit: The U.S. Army/Flickr

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