Posted by: chronicler55 | July 18, 2008

Do we really have to shoot pigs?

I am a great supporter of our military men and women, was a Navy wife for 23 years and am now a Navy Mom.  As seen in the previous post, our military experts work very hard to devise strategies and tactics which protect and defend all of us.

But do we really have to shoot pigs? The Associated Press reports that the Army intends to shoot live pigs in order to train soldiers who are about to deploy to Iraq how to respond to “real tissue wounds.” Click on link below for the AP article.

Army to Shoot live pigs for Medical Drill


The soldiers are learning emergency lifesaving skills needed on the battlefield when there are no medics, doctors or facility nearby, he said.

PETA, notified by one of the soldiers who was troubled about the upcoming training, sees this training as outdated and unnecessary.

PETA, however, said there are more advanced and humane options available, including high-tech human simulators. In a letter, PETA urged the Army to end all use of animals, “as the overwhelming majority of North American medical schools have already done.”

Now, it galls me to find myself on the side of PETA against the Army, but virtual simulators are more and more often taking the place of dissection in schools. I can’t think that proper injury treatment on the battlefield is much improved by shooting pigs. If I thought it was necessary to saving the lives of soldiers, I would feel differently. The soldiers lives are paramount, of course.

But do we really have to shoot pigs?




  1. To answer your question: No, the Army does NOT have to shoot pigs in order to train soldiers on how to save lives. However, comparing the “majority of North American medical schools” to what the US Army does is like comparing apples to oranges. The US Army has it’s own doctrine and procedure for emergency care given by a provider in a combat situation. We call this “Tactical Combat Casualty Care”. TCCC is based upon principles taught to paramedics and medical students worldwide, but adapted to the challenges we soldiers face when under fire in combat.

    Army medics are trained in all of the capacities that they are expected to perform in when deployed to a theater of operations, and this training includes the practice of certain techniques (IV’s, maintaining an airway, controlling hemorrhage, etc.) on each other, as well as on different training aids such as these VERY expensive human patient simulators. As an experienced Army medic currently serving in Iraq, I have experienced all of this, and some, and I will NOT deny that this training is not adequate. It’s that little extra that puts us over the edge and on top. For example, when being trained in the use of a tourniquet to control or stop severe bleeding, you are instructed to place the tourniquet approximately 2 inches above the wound or joint, and twist the windlass UNTIL the bleeding stops. Simple, right? Well, a training partner doesn’t bleed (unless you’ve tightened the tourniquet so tight that you ripped his or her skin!) and an “advanced human simulator” only bleeds if you remembered to fill up his “blood” tank, and only then you have to work with the simulator in order to actually make it work (sometimes they don’t work quite like a human).

    However, any pig farmer can tell you how much a pig bleeds when you cut it. And it bleeds, and the tourniquet stops it when you use it correctly.

    I experienced this course 3 times before I deployed to Iraq, and I feel that if I had taken this training even once I would have a leg-up on other medics who hadn’t. Any Joe Schmoe off the street can learn how to use a tourniquet in a life-threatening situation, and if you put one on yourself and tighten it up enough, I guaran-damn-tee you will believe with all of your heart that it will stop any bleeding that may spring forth from your arms or legs (or any bleeding that MIGHT have thought about spilling out, for that matter). However, there is something about seeing, feeling, and smelling the blood spill, all while a living creature is breathing heavily because it is going into hypovolemic shock, that provides you with the power of the experience, with the ability to say “I have stopped severe arterial bleeding by using a tourniquet, therefore I KNOW that it works”. THIS is accomplished with the use of live tissue training. This training gives medics the confidence and comfort in knowing what they’ve been trained works, and that makes them better medics. It gives them the experience, having worked on a live animal, that gives them the wisdom when they may later face that same type of severe bleeding coming from the arm or leg of a fallen comrade.

    I can NOT sympathize with PETA over this issue. The training the Army gives it’s soldier medics is second to NONE, and this particular training only proves this fact. Granted, human simulator robots are cool and they are outstanding training aids (that also break quite often), but there is no experience like controlling severe bleeding coming from a blast wound on a 150 lb. pig “patient”, while perform rescue breathing, while maintaining an IV, while carrying the “patient” on a stretcher to a simulated medevac helicopter landing zone in the heat of simulated battle.

    If you would like more information regarding this, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will also be posting this response to your post on my blog, and I invite you to share your feelings. And thanks for your support!

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