NC Doctors Group Upset about Live Animal Training for Trauma Care- Prefer Human Patients for Training

In News & Opinion by TWANGnBANG

TCCC training at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Feb. 23, 2016. (

A doctors group with a very long name would prefer that trauma medicine trainees in NC train on human patients instead of live animals.  Somehow, they only recently found out that live animals have been a staple in trauma training since forever, providing not only the opportunity for a trainee to treat a real wound, but also providing the kind of pressure only a true do-or-die situation can provide.

The squeamish should stop reading here.  The rest can read about how live animal trauma training is done and how important it is to trauma medicine.

A Boer goat typically bred for meat. (Teunie from NL, Wikipedia Commons)

I have a good friend who teaches Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) using goats.  Animals used are purchased pre-slaughter from meat farmers and were going to be killed regardless.  The animals are fully anesthetized and can feel nothing, but they are indeed alive at the start of the training.  This requires several hundred dollars worth of drugs for each animal patient.  In fact, so many anesthetics are used for the welfare of the animals that they are inedible.

Instructors ensure the animals are not suffering from the beginning to the end, but they also create real world injuries using various weapons and devices depending on the goal of the training.  However, the point is to present non-surgical wounds to the trainees- the exact same injuries they’d see in combat or a trauma center that can be hard to quantify and hard to treat.

One of the most underestimated benefits of live animal training is that most trainees demonstrate an intense emotional response to seeing their patient dying in front of them, especially when their initial treatments don’t seem to be working.  Some even cry and some even panic, but the instructors then have the opportunity to help them through their emotional crisis to focus on the treatment and not the patient until it is stabilized.  Trauma professionals don’t have that support once they’re in the field.

Robotic models do not create that same emotional connection regardless of how much a trainee might stress about their performance.  Observation of and assisting human trauma care removes any pressure that the choices made by the trainee could cause loss of life.

Human lives depend upon the skill and experience of trauma professionals every day.  Live animal training provides challenges that models or observation simply cannot create for a trainee.  Ironically, the truth is that every trauma professional experiences live animal training- if the NC doctors group in the article has their way, that live animal might be you.