Defence Medical Services: Training

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 23rd July 2019.

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Photo of Ben Lake Ben Lake Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what his Department's policy is on participation of military surgeons in overseas training exercises involving animals that have been shot or otherwise injured with offensive weapons for the purpose of that exercise.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The Ministry of Defence takes very seriously its obligation to provide the best possible medical treatment for Service personnel wounded on operational service. The quality of care delivered by the Defence Medical Services (DMS) is directly related to the thoroughness with which we prepare our deployed surgical teams for the sorts of serious injuries they will encounter.

This training is delivered through a range of different courses and exercises, many of which employ complex simulation models such as programmable mannequins. However, simulators are currently unable to replace all trauma training. Even the most sophisticated of them are not technologically advanced enough to respond physiologically to complex surgical procedures. At present, the only means for our surgical teams to get the necessary training in the control of real-time internal haemorrhage from combat injury is through live tissue training (LTT).

Up to twice a year, members of the DMS attend surgical training exercises in Denmark, during which live but fully anaesthetised pigs are given bullet and blast wounds which are then treated in real-time exercises by surgical teams. The animals are unconscious during the entire exercise, and feel no pain. They are attended at all times by veterinary staff, who may withdraw them at any time for any reason, and the animals are humanely put down at the end of the training procedures without recovering consciousness.

The DMS have collaborated on a number of research programmes into simulator technology, and constantly monitors the latest developments, especially where they might in future offer an alternative means of delivering this specialised but vital training.

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