By Sandy Mackey, Zombie Expert, Delaware County EMA
I have never in my life come face to face with a real live zombie, or would that be a real dead zombie? Either way, last Halloween I got my chance when the Delaware County, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management hosted a “Zombie Exercise” to test how we’d respond during a disaster.
The response from the public was overwhelming, 225 people signed up to be zombies and we received national news coverage, which was unheard of for any of our previous emergency exercises. Of course, there was more to it than just getting together with a couple hundred of our favorite brain gobbling buddies, we were interested in fine tuning our response skills, and we also wanted to instill the value of preparedness in our residents and participants. As the saying goes, if you’re ready for a zombie apocalypse, you’re ready for a real emergency!
So there I was on a cold Halloween morning, in the middle of Ohio Wesleyan University Selby Field, surrounded by hundreds of the undead. It was great! While the zombies were all having fun, this full-scale exercise was serious business for our first responders. Their job was to contain, decontaminate, and treat the zombies with hopes of turning them back to their normal-selves. This tested our responders on how they assess an emergency, deploy assets (e.g., equipment, supplies, medicine), communicate, follow ‘hot zone’ protocols, and set up mass decontamination and medication stations.
The exercise was a valuable lesson for everyone involved, not to mention our zombie volunteers had a great time. Some went home with plaques for best costume, best shuffle and best make-up, and everyone went home with a zombie t-shirt and great memories!
This year we’re expanding on the zombie theme. In October 2012, we’ll be hosting a Zombie 5k fun run/1 mile Walk for Preparedness. Additional activities may include a “reverse trick-or-treat zombie preparedness squad,” outreach to schools, and educational activities at public events. All of these efforts will stress a “common sense” approach to preparedness. If you’re in the area, stop by and join us!
If you would like to learn more about this event, please contact Sandy Mackey at firstname.lastname@example.org.