UPDATE: Following a PETA campaign and efforts by our friends at Humane Research Australia, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has announced that it’ll phase out the use of live animals in its Early Management of Severe Trauma programme.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has continued to cut holes in the throats, chests and limbs of live pigs during trauma-training exercises for the Australian Defence Force, despite the availability of modern simulators. That’s why PETA Australia is running this thought-provoking new ad at the tram station near the RACS head office in Melbourne:
A group of costumed PETA “pigs” also descended on the RACS Conference at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre to protest this cruelty. Watch the scene outside the conference, where attendees and passers-by came face-to-snout with our “pigs”:
An activist also bravely took over the microphone at the conference, disrupting the speakers and drawing everyone’s attention to the cruelty involved in live-animal trauma training:
Better Alternatives Exist
PETA Australia have offered to pay for the popular TraumaMan simulator, which is designed specifically for this training and replicates a breathing, bleeding human torso, complete with realistic layers of skin and tissue, ribs and internal organs. This system is more portable, less costly and reusable – unlike animal-based exercises – and studies show that doctors who learn life-saving surgical skills on TraumaMan are more proficient than those who cut up animals.
RACS Lags Behind
Most other countries that teach the same trauma training course – and even several sites in Australia – have switched to superior human simulators that have been approved internationally since 2001 as full replacements for animal use.
Australian regulations require the use of non-animal training methods whenever available. By continuing to mutilate and kill animals when alternatives are approved for use, RACS may be in breach of these regulations.
Doctors Speak Out
Along with pigs, dogs and sheep have also been cut up and killed during these courses.
Dr Jill Tomlinson, a former participant in a RACS Early Management of Severe Trauma course, spoke to The Age newspaper about the upsetting experience she had and her feelings about being forced to slice open a dog’s chest, saying:
“I was both upset and angry that I had no other alternative than to participate in something that I felt was wrong.”
In response to denials by RACS that simulators are effective training tools, Dr Tomlinson explained that she has since undertaken the same procedure on human patients, noting major differences in the anatomical make-up of dogs as opposed to humans. She stated:
“I don’t think the argument that it needs to be done for training holds up.”
Another surgeon, who wished to remain anonymous, also spoke to The Age about the horror she experienced while “killing a dog bit by bit”.
Speaking of a dog who stopped breathing after his bladder had been punctured accidentally, she recalled:
“The dog had been over-gassed, so it just died on the table. It was more traumatic than euthanising it. … It just wasn’t the right thing to do.”
How You Can Help
Australia’s surgeons should have access to the same gold-standard human-patient simulators that benefit other medical personnel around the world. Mutilating and killing animals is no way to train surgeons to treat human patients.
Please take 30 seconds to sign our urgent action alert urging RACS to stop live-animal trauma training.
Please also share this information with your family and friends and encourage them to add their names to the tens of thousands of others who have already spoken out against this cruelty.