Zombie Nation: Teaching Preparedness through a Zombie Outbreak

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By Carol Okupniak, RN, MSN, BC, Drexel University College of Nursing & Health Professions

CDC’s Zombie Preparedness Campaign was the catalyst that inspired Drexel University’s College of Nursing & Health Professions, Center for Interdisciplinary Clinical Simulation and Practice, to prepare medical professionals for ANY disaster by creating a Zombie Apocalypse in our own lab.

Last summer Drexel staff interrupted class with news of an infectious outbreak in Philadelphia. Class members were escorted to the morgue to help identify the undead, who when the bags were unzipped, became reanimated, victims of the fictional neurodegenerative ataxic satiety deficiency syndrome.

People dressed up like zombies in body bags Unlike a typical classroom workshop using mannequins and actors portraying standardized patients, the students suddenly found themselves surrounded by-and tasked with helping-victims of a zombie attack.  As the surprised group checked vital signs, some “patients” began to rise, stumble about and groan “braaaaaaains,” reaching for a candy imitation tucked under pillows. After ten minutes of growing chaos, a voice over the intercom called the scenario to an end. The stunned participants filed out of the simulation room and headed to a debriefing session.

Since last year we have staged a variety of disasters in our lab – from building implosions, to house fires with multiple casualties, to victims of IEDs. We learned that no matter what the disaster, the preparation is the same – get a kit, make a plan, be prepared. We would like to thank the CDC for provoking us to create a simulated disaster unlike any other. Our zombies, healthcare professionals, and especially our simulation staff, came away from the experience with newfound knowledge, which we will never forget. We are prepared and we hope to inspire many more healthcare professionals for years to come. Look out for more zombies in our future!

For more information on this simulation, please contact Carol Okupniak at co33@drexel.edu

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One comment on “Zombie Nation: Teaching Preparedness through a Zombie Outbreak”

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    Pretty awesome! The CDC might also want to think about exploiting this zombie craze even further to get people (especially young students) interested in biological sciences such as basic microbiology. You could post an article on how, for instance, when the zombie apocalypse comes (perhaps next week?), the CDC would study tissue samples to isolate the NASDS-causing pathogen and decode its DNA sequence. You could then elaborate on the process of developing and deploying treatments to such pathogens. That could get people interested in the ways the CDC actually fights epidemics (in addition to zombies). Just a thought.

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Page last reviewed: March 20, 2015
Page last updated: March 20, 2015