Fake practice


“The soldiers must respond; neutralise the enemy, and provide triage to the injured. It is, of course, a drill. … “It’s confronting,” Major Greg Brown, the clinical director of the training regime, said. In a way it’s clinical inoculation. … The injuries and the mechanisms are all taken from real life casualty statistics. We try and keep it as real as we can to prepare the soldiers when they get there for what’s going to confront them.” [0]

Looks good, but it will not prepare enough for the real thing. The job will get done but the individuals doing the fixing and those on the receiving end will pay a hefty price. Why?

Treating actors dressed in uniforms with fake blood,  trying to diagnose and put into practice your training will help but only to a point. It won’t inoculate them from the associated psychological trauma. Which I think the training is trying to address.

Practice of this type will let you get the job done, that’s it. It won’t equip you with the skills to ignore the horrors of the moment, the fear and anxiety of knowing if you don’t do the job right, someone dies. It won’t prepare you if you fail. It won’t give you the skills to decompress or recover.


You need to practice not with fake casualties but live casualties. Either animals like goats, that are injured or with a rotation in a hospital where real people are being treated with wounds consistent with the effect. Having access to hospitals and injured patients isn’t realistic. If you want to improve both the ability of people to save lives and reduce psychological trauma there are alternatives.

It’s not politically correct to suggest, but one way to simulate the types of stress you will encounter is to organise a bonding sessions with animals. Then have the animal injured and get the trainees to patch the animal up. The reason? To place real stress on the trainee just like it will occur if a person is injured. Especially if it is someone they know. This is cruel. [1] Not only for the animal. But the lack of a credible alternative is just as cruel for the people who are exposed to these situations with inadequate realistic training. [2]

Simulate as much as you like, no simulated training prepares you for the real thing.


[0] Hayden Cooper, ABC News, “Fake blood prepares troops for real war”
[Accessed Tuesday 15th June, 2010]

[1] Human Society of United States, “Getting Their Goats: Tell the Army to Stop Using Caprines in Medic Training”
[Accessed Tuesday 15th June, 2010]

[2] Jim Hanson, Washington Times, “Save people, not pets”
[Accessed Tuesday 15th June, 2010]


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