Pigs Saved in Canada

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Pigs Saved in Canada

From Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)

Now, 95 percent of U.S. and Canadian facilities that provide ATLS training use lifelike human patient simulators. But a handful of programs, like Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., continue to use live animals in trauma training courses.

2010 is already shaping up to be a winning year for PCRM’s campaign to end animal use in Advanced Trauma Life Support programs. Last month, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, announced that it stopped using live pigs in its trauma training program. Because of PCRM’s efforts, the university will instead use the TraumaMan System simulator.

Like many of PCRM’s Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) victories, this one came through a coordinated approach. While PCRM cardiologist John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., was in discussions with the university’s ATLS course director, PCRM attorney Mark Kennedy was pursuing access to the institution’s records through Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Both of these factors, as well as extensive media coverage, contributed to the school’s decision to replace the use of pigs with the TraumaMan System simulator.

This latest Canadian victory follows several in 2009. Last year, PCRM persuaded both Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine to stop using live pigs in their ATLS programs and exclusively use the TraumaMan System. The University of Saskatchewan’s decision was covered by Canwest, the largest media company in Canada, and was reported in newspapers and by TV stations across the country.

ATLS training involves cutting into live, anesthetized animals and practicing procedures such as inserting a tube and needle into the animals’ chest cavities and cutting into their throats. After the training session, the animals are killed. The animals are also subjected to the trauma of confinement, shipping, and preparation for surgery.

Now, 95 percent of U.S. and Canadian facilities that provide ATLS training use lifelike human patient simulators. But a handful of programs, like Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., continue to use live animals in trauma training courses.

Last fall, PCRM filed a federal animal welfare complaint against Baystate and launched a public campaign to end this cruel practice. You can help by asking Baystate’s CEO and ATLS course director to replace the use of animals in all ATLS courses with validated nonanimal training methods.

To learn more about how you can help end the use of animals in other trauma training programs, please visit Humane Trauma Training.