As a retired Marine officer with three sons and a son-in-law who are combat Marines, and a daughter who led a shock trauma team in Afghanistan as a Navy corpsman assigned to the 1st Marine Division, I am appalled at the letter writer's shortsighted diatribe against the "Goat Lab" training given combat medical personnel prior to deployment.
To my personal knowledge, this training has gone on for at least 25 years and has paid great dividends in the successful treatment of wounded service members. In World War II, a Marine or soldier wounded in combat had a 50 percent chance of survival. In Afghanistan, that rate improved to 97 percent. Most of this increase is directly due to improved training in the care the wounded receive immediately after injury.
Goat Lab gives the people who will have to run out into the street immediately after an IED explodes hands-on experience in stopping massive bleeding, ensuring breathing is maintained, starting an IV on a patient with falling blood pressure and preventing shock. The subjects are anesthetized goats that would have gone to slaughter anyway. As anyone who has undergone surgery knows, the lights go out and you have no idea what happens afterwards. Truly, these goats probably have a more humane death, from their point of view, than those who just head to the slaughterhouse.
As an alternative, the letter writer would have these medical trainees "intern" at a local emergency room. Is he really suggesting that the paramedics, nurses and doctors stand back and allow these young medics or corpsmen to practice on shot-up inner-city youths or his own son or daughter who's been injured in a car accident? The liability suits growing out of that would be mind-boggling. Or are they just to watch and hope that's sufficient for when they have to do it for real all by themselves?
Other supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have suggested that a computer simulation would serve as well or better. Sitting before a computer screen in an air-conditioned room and moving the cursor around will never replace the stress, smell, dust, noise, emotions and experience of actually having to treat a traumatic injury successfully for the first time.
Discussing this with my daughter, she related that this training was the best she received, and critical to preparing her for deployment even after having worked in a naval hospital for five years.
The reality is, unpleasant as it may be, our military medical personnel can either get their hands dirty and learn their trade on an anesthetized goat or puzzle it out for the first time on a young American, possibly my son or your daughter, bleeding to death in a dusty ditch. The professionalism and effectiveness of our combat medical personnel have been proven under fire. Why would anyone wish to trade Marines' lives for goats'?
Frank K. Anderson, major, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), Brooksville
Higher ed keeps losing ground Aug. 20, editorial
System needs an overhaul
Thank you for pointing out an issue facing Florida's education leaders that might otherwise be swept under the rug. Although we are set to eclipse New York as the third most populous state, our higher educational system boasts no top 50 nationally ranked universities, and our state college/community college system has been marked by fraud.
From the Ray Sansom debacle with pet projects slipped into a state college budget, to local cronyism through which state legislators are hired outside their areas of specialization, our higher educational system needs a serious overhaul. My fear is that financial support alone will only add to the systemic problems of favoritism, cronyism, nepotism and underachievement.
My suggestion is to raise average SAT scores at each university and to increase student retention at all colleges and universities. Until these two benchmarks are in place, the solution of financial support will only exacerbate the problem.
Robert J. King, St. Petersburg
Sending the wrong message to kids Aug. 20, John Romano column
Stern punishment required
Regarding the potential punishment to be given to the boys who beat and broke the arm of a 13-year-old boy on the school bus: What in the world are the authorities thinking to suggest giving them nine months of probation? These boys might have killed this child had the driver not called for help and tried to talk to them.
They need to be punished for attempted murder, in adult court, not tapped on the wrist.
In today's society too many children are out of control with little parental interference. Children need to be disciplined by their parents and taught ethics and morals, and more parents need to be present in their lives. There are parents who know where their children are and what they are involved in, but far too few.
Lucy Brenner, St. Petersburg
Designed with city in mind
As the lead architect for the new Pier project known as the Lens, I've come to appreciate that the St. Petersburg community cares very deeply about the waterfront and the future of your city. I'm writing to assure you that the entire design team shares your passion.
Since the beginning, creating exciting ways for residents and visitors to engage the waterfront has been the backbone of our design approach. We imagined a new space for St. Pete, one where visitors can take a stroll on the Pier and never walk the same path twice. A place to walk, run, bike, kayak, or paddle board; for kids to learn about the bay's ecosystem; where families can go for a special dinner or a scoop of gelato on a hot afternoon.
Designs like the Lens, especially those that are unexpected or nontraditional, have often met resistance. I am aware that the old Pier is a beloved landmark and a large group of people question the need for change. But I am also aware a large group of people support the project. They believe, as I do, that the new Pier will be an accessible and sustainable community landmark, continuing the pier's traditions while speaking to future generations.
The project team has worked with the city and dedicated design, engineering and construction partners. Most importantly we've collaborated with the community. At more than 100 meetings, you've shared with us your aspirations. I've heard many criticisms and suggestions — they have all had a real impact on me and a direct impact on the design. The Lens today would not have been possible without your many voices.
Michael Maltzan, Los Angeles
Contempt as entertainment | Aug. 21, letter
See the show before judging
A news account of the Straz Center's promotion of The Book of Mormon included a misinformed and unnecessary critique of the show. This has generated reader responses. I saw the musical. I am neither religious nor Mormon. I have walked out of shows that I found to be offensive.
Sophomoric humor and language (albeit hilarious) is to be expected from the creators of South Park. Farce is made of some of the foibles that all religions have.
However, the undeniable message of the show is that faith inspires transformative change in the principal characters. Faith internalized and lived enables heroic, self-sacrificing actions that better society. Clearly, the Mormons can laugh at themselves and appreciate the core of the musical.
I paraphrase their paid ad in Playbill: "If you like the show, you'll love the book."
Pat Byrne , Largo
At core, better schools | Aug. 21, commentary
Make test rigorous, reliable
The new Common Core State Standards for education do not need to become a political football. If progress is to be measured nationally, then benchmarks must be established and students need to be evaluated. A standardized test should be developed that is rigorous, relevant and reliable in all states.
Florida must not withdraw from the development and evaluation process. Parents, educators and politicians in every state should be offered the opportunity to develop a supplemental section, specific to their state, that may be administered but not be included nationally in the state rankings.
The citizens of all states should remember that it is not the Common Core test but what is done with the testing results that truly matter.
John B. Weber, Spring Hill
Why the liberal arts | Aug. 18, Perspective
Liberate your mind
William Felice's article brilliantly explains the answer to "why."
Some years ago, I read an anecdote germane to the question. A student complained to her professor about the reading matter he had assigned. The book, she said, wasn't "relevant" to her life.
His answer: "Why did you come to the university? Wasn't it to widen your knowledge and understanding of the world beyond your experience? Wasn't it to enjoy finding out about other peoples, cultures, ideas? In sum, to enrich your inner life?"
Years ago I entertained the idea that "liberal" was related to "liberate." Don't the liberal arts free us from the narrow constraints of "relevant" thinking?
Abigail Ann Martin, Brandon