Zombie apocalypse: Preparing for a public health disaster

March 14, 2017
  • umichnews@umich.edu


DATE: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. March 25, 2017

EVENT: The University of Michigan School of Public Health will once again lead a zombie apocalypse-themed biopreparedness drill to educate students and the community about disaster preparedness.

For the past several years, the school has partnered with Washtenaw County Public Health to run the exercise, in which some students and community participants act as zombies, while others fill various leadership roles in managing a disaster.

This year, the drill also includes the U-M schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Social Work, fostering an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to health education and practice.

“The main goals are for students to understand the role of public health in an emergency response and for students to be an active part of public health practice with our community partners,” said Laura Johnson, research assistant professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health. “This exercise will be fun and engaging, while also providing a meaningful hands-on lesson in emergency preparedness.”

The zombies represent a worst-case scenario in public health: a natural disaster, major disease outbreak or bioterrorism. The zombie invasion allows students to assist local public health officials to practice their emergency response plans, which should translate for any type of disaster.

For Washtenaw County Public Health, the collaboration provides an opportunity to exercise emergency plans and work with local partners and volunteers.

“The purpose of this event is to test our department’s response plan, and to continue our preparedness work with the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the Washtenaw County Medical Reserve Corp and other community partners,” said Cindra James, public health preparedness administrator for Washtenaw County Public Health. “We also want to stress to people the importance of being prepared for any type of community emergency. How you prepare and plan for a zombie apocalypse can be replicated in how you prepare for any emergency.”

PLACE: U-M School of Public Health, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor

SPONSORS: U-M schools of Public Health, Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Social Work; Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education; Washtenaw County Public Health; Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

INFORMATION: Zombie Apocalypse Biopreparedness Event