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Tough Day To Be A Goat

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Thursday was a bad day to be a goat at Fort Sam Houston. For emergency medical training, medics on the cusp of deployment go through classes using both simulated patients and a "live tissue lab," i.e., Goat Central.

Hair Balls spoke with Col. Dr. Patricia Hastings, the head of US Army EMS, who explained why animals, as opposed to simulation models, are necessary for certain types of procedures.

"Medics are called upon to act quickly, to act correctly, and to bring back a patient rather than a victim," Hastings told us.

Which seems obvious, but the point is that if a soldier takes one in the chest and his lung collapses; or if a civilian child steps on an IED and gets his leg blown off, there is such little time to fix the problem. And according to Hastings, there just isn't a simulation yet that beats a goat for teaching a medic what to do in those situations. Specifically, Hastings said the goats are necessary for three types of wounds: Airway, chest, bleeding (i.e., a severed ephemeral artery a la Black Hawk Dawn).

While a PETA representative has described the training as "cutting open live goats and breaking their legs with tree trimmers," Hastings says the goats are under "deep anasthesia" and are monitored by a veterinarian and vet techs. After the training, the goats are euthanized. There are typically five or six trainees per goat.

Hastings said that, for everyone in the lab - including her -- "realizing the great gift this animal has given to our [medics]" is a responsibility that is not taken lightly. Who knew that goats gave us more than just milk, cheese, and troll-tricking abilities?

-- Craig Malisow 

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