There is a lack of objective analysis comparing live tissue and simulator training. This article aims to objectively determine the difference in outcomes. Twenty-four Air Force volunteers without prior experience performing emergency procedures were randomly assigned to receive training in tube thoracostomy (chest tube) and cricothyroidotomy training on either a pig model (Sus scrofa domestica) or on the TraumaMan simulator. One week posttraining, students were tested on human cadavers with objective and subjective results recorded. Average completion time for tube thoracostomy in the animal model group was 2 minutes 4 seconds and 1 minute 51 seconds in the simulator group with a mean difference of 12 seconds (P = 0.74). Average completion time for cricothyroidotomy in the animal model group was 2 minutes 35 seconds and 3 minutes 29 seconds in the simulator group with a mean difference of 53 seconds (P = 0.32). Overall confidence was 9 per cent higher in the animal trained group (P = 0.42). Success rate of cricothyroidotomy was 75 per cent in the animal model group and 58 per cent in the simulator-trained group (P = 0.67). Success rate of chest tube placement was 92 per cent in the animal group and 83 per cent in the simulator group (P = 1.00). There was no statistically significant difference in chest tube and cricothyroidotomy outcomes or confidence in the groups trained with live animal models or simulators at the 95 per cent confidence interval. Trends suggest a possible difference, but the number of cadavers required to reach greater than 95 per cent statistical confidence prohibited continuation of the study.