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Top UK Army Doctor Reveals House of Commons' Demands to Switch to Non-Animal Simulators

For Immediate Release:

26 August 2014

Contact:

Ben Williamson +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 229; BenW@peta.org.uk

PETA Calls On Minister to Use Modern Training Tools and End Shooting and Stabbing of Animals in Wake of Recent Admission

London – PETA is intensifying its call on the Ministry of Defence to stop shooting, stabbing and blowing up animals in Cold War–era training drills in light of a recent admission by the Medical Director at Joint Medical Command that he receives fortnightly letters from the House of Commons asking why the UK has not already switched to modern simulators. The admission from Brigadier Tim Hodgetts CBE at the 2014 Military Health System Research Symposium in Florida follows a number of new military studies showing that modern simulators teach life-saving battlefield medical skills as well as or better than cutting up and killing pigs and other animals.

In a letter sent today to the new Defence Secretary, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, PETA highlights the following research:

  • A study funded by the US Department of Defense (DOD) at the University of Minnesota found that medics who were taught haemorrhage control and other emergency medical procedures on human simulators were as proficient as those taught using animals and that both methods produced similar degrees of stress in trainees.
  • A DOD-funded study conducted by the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan concluded that medical staff who were taught paediatric intubation skills on simulators were more proficient than those who trained on live cats.
  • A Canadian Forces Health Services study found that a life-like human-patient simulator was as effective as the use of live animals in teaching traumatic-injury management to military medical technicians.

"Across the board, these new military studies prove that medical personnel can effectively learn to save lives on the battlefield without shooting, cutting up and killing animals", says PETA UK's Julia Baines. "The Ministry of Defence must take animals out of the crosshairs and implement humane, effective and economical training methods."

EU Directive 2010/63/EU requires that non-animal methods be used whenever available. Shamefully, UK military personnel are still participating in biennial surgical training exercises in Denmark, informally known in military circles as "Danish bacon". Earlier this year, PETA released horrific, never-before-seen photographs from this crude course showing that live pigs were hung from a wooden frame and shot with AK-47s and handguns, after which military personnel operated on the still-living animals, who were later killed. The UK is one of only six out of 28 NATO nations that still use animals in military medical training.

Earlier this year, US Air Force researchers published a study showing that human-patient simulators taught life-saving skills as well as animal laboratories. In 2012, the Israel Defence Forces published a study showing that human simulators improved medical providers' confidence in performing emergency procedures, while training on live animals did not.

In 2013 and 2014, the US Army and the US Coast Guard instituted new policies restricting the use of animals in medical training and requiring greater use of simulation and other non-animal methods. Last year, following discussions with PETA US, the Polish Armed Forces fully ended its use of animals in medical training exercises.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.

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