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Study evaluates simulation vs. animals to train combat medics

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Published:   |   Updated: August 16, 2013 at 06:53 PM

About 30 Florida National Guard medics will take part in a study to see if simulation is a better way to train for combat medicine than using live animals.

The University of Missouri’s Combat Casualty Training Consortium study is being hosted locally by the University of South Florida’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, according to the Florida National Guard, and is part of an on-going Department of Defense-funded grant with a goal of proving that simulation is superior to animal live-tissue training in preparing combat medics.

The medics will use live animals in the study, under the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee rules requiring humane treatment of the animals, including that they are anesthetized first. The study is part of the Defense Department’s efforts to “refine, reduce, and appropriately replace the use of live animals in medical education and training whenever possible,” according to Florida National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. James Evans.

The medics are from 256th Area Medical Support Company (927th Combat Service Support Battalion, 50th Area Support Group), stationed at the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.

The CAMLS Center will receive at least $750,000 for its part of the $5.3 million grant, according to USF. The University of Central Florida is also taking part, according to USF Health spokeswoman Anne DeLotto Baier.

“The ultimate goal is to provide the best evidence-based training to save lives on the battlefield,” Baier said.

The study has been heavily critized by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which put out a press release earlier this week calling on the Guard to end its involvement in the program, erroneously calling it a training mission. The organization also sent a letter to Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw, Adjutant General of the Florida National Guard, calling on him to refrain from using live animals.

On Wednesday, the organization responded to the Florida National Guard’s decision to take part with a study with another call to stop using live animals.

“We welcome the recognition by the Florida National Guard that modern simulation is the future of military medical training, but no more animals need to be stabbed, mutilated, or shot to make this point,” said Justin Goodman, director of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department. “Military and civilian studies have already shown that simulators better prepare medics and doctors to perform life-saving trauma procedures than does cutting into intentionally maimed animals. That many U.S. military facilities and 80 percent of our NATO allies already use exclusively non-animal simulation methods to train their medical personnel is further evidence that the switch could be made tomorrow without subjecting more animals to harm and death.”

Neither Evans nor Baier would say what animals will be involved in the study or the exact nature of what will happen to them.

“The Florida National Guard appreciates and values the input of our Florida citizens and members of advocacy organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who feel strongly about this matter,” said Evans. “We are pleased to be supportive of the process that will validate viable alternatives to (live-tissue training) for our combat medics.”

The study will take place from Aug. 16 until Aug. 19, Evans said.

haltman@tampatrib.com

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