End the use of animals in training education for paramedics

The use of live animals in paramedic training program at the University of Washingon could be stopped. UW’s course is the only one in the Pacific Northwest known to use live animals for train EMT about surgical airway management. The other programs use human-based methods for this type of training.

This is the reason why the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine ask the University to stop the use of pigs for paramedic training, with an online petition adressed to the UW president Michael Young. Here below you could found the column for Care2 written by J. Pippin, MD, who explain why this practice is now suboptimal.


Paramedics are frontline lifesavers. In a medical emergency, you may not survive to see me or another physician without a paramedic saving your life first. So it only makes sense that they are trained with the latest human-based technology. Unfortunately, some training programs may be endangering your life by forcing paramedics to train on animals instead.

In tech-savvy Seattle, the University of Washington (UW) still uses live animals to teach surgical airway skills to paramedics—despite the fact that anatomical differences between pigs and humans render this type of training suboptimal.

Paramedics in training deserve better. And so do you—your life could depend on it.

Luckily, most first responders are getting a first-rate education. According to an ongoing survey, UW’s paramedic course is the only program in the Pacific Northwest known to use animals. Human-based medical simulators such as Laerdal’s SimMan 3G and Gaumard’s Hal S3201can be used to teach all the procedures taught in UW’s paramedic training.

In fact, UW even owns a SimMan 3G in its state-of-the-art simulation center. Take a look at this video of Laerdal’s SimMan 3G in action:

There are other simulators that are equally revolutionary. Simulab’s TraumaMan System (a realistic anatomical human body simulator approved by the American College of Surgeons that comes with lifelike human skin, subcutaneous fat and muscle) and SynDaver’s SynAtomy Cric can be used in this training as well. With technology like this available, it just doesn’t make sense to train on animals. (Of course, it never did.) So this summer, the Physicians Committee filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against UW.

John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., is director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nationwide organization of physicians, scientists, educators and laypersons that promotes preventive medicine, especially good nutrition, and addresses controversies in modern medicine, including ethical and scientific issues in education and research.

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