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April 07, 2014 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-07

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8A - Monday, April 7, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'Zombies' invade local community center

School of Public
Health students hold
emergency response
Daily News Editor
Zombies invaded Ann Arbor
Saturday, but citizens need not
worry. A joint team from the Uni-
versity's School of Public Health
and Washtenaw County Public
Health contained the incident
and effectively treated all sub-
jects who had been exposed to
the Toxoplasma zombie parasite.
In reality, Saturday's disas-
ter preparedness exercise at
the Washtenaw County Learn-
ing Resource Center served an
important role in preparing
community health officials for
a potential emergency. Though
the simulation used "zombies"
- volunteers from the commu-
nity who were provided makeup
prior to the event - the exercise

was intended to test the ability
of local public health agencies to
respond to a wide array of possi-
ble scenarios in the community,
such as a bioterrorism attack, flu
outbreak or natural disaster.
In the years since the Sept. 11,
2001 terrorist attacks, govern-
ment agencies, such as the Cen-
ters for Disease Control, have
invested heavily in community
preparedness programs such as
the "zombie invasion." While
zombies do not present a serious
threat to communities, the CDC
launched the national program
to help local agencies better pre-
pare for any disaster..
"If you are generally well
equipped to deal with a zombie
apocalypse you will be prepared
for a hurricane, pandemic, earth-
quake, or terrorist attack," wrote
Ali Kahn, director of the CDC's
Office of Public Health Pre-
paredness and Response.
The event, organized through
the School of Public Health,
serves the dual purpose of pre-
paring public response measures
and teaching students about

dealing with outbreaks or other
disasters. In particular, the sim-
ulation applies principles taught
in the graduate course "Applied
Epidemiology," allowing stu-
dents to see in action the proce-
dures they study over the course
of a semester.
Associate Epidemiology
Prof. Eden Wells, director of
the preventative medicine resi-
dency, called this year's event
a "functional exercise." While
she implemented a similar event
last year to help her class bet-
ter understand the material,
this year's event had the added
element of involving local pub-
lic health agencies, giving the
students a chance to partake in
a more realistic and beneficial
"These events are really fun to
engage with, but they reallyneed
to be developed with concrete
goals and objectives," Wells said.
"It's fun if you just want to have
a zombie event, but for this we're
actually undertaking (the event)
with specific teaching competen-
cies in mind."

Wells said Saturday's exercise
was intended to simulate a "point
of dispensing" scenario. The
procedure is used when public
health officials need to distrib-
ute a large volume of treatments,
medication or vaccination over
an entire community population.
In such cases, both efficiency
and preparedness are key in
delivering the care people need
in a timely manner.
"Theyneedtobe able todothis
for a large number of people in a
short period of time, so it really
is a plan that has to be exercised
quite often, because you con-
tinually need volunteers to help
set up and you need the ability
to keep the experience fresh in
everybody's mind," Wells said.
Throughout the simulation,
volunteers were assigned vari-
ous roles - either as zombies
seeking treatment or uninfected
individuals seeking vaccina-
tion - and given instructions
regarding how to behave and
how to answer certain medical
questions. The response work-
ers were then responsible for

managing the treatment process
as the "patients" moved through
the POD site.
The response workers also
had to deal with a variety of
challenging scenarios that could
be experienced in a real-life sce-
nario, such as language barriers,
unaccompanied children, dis-
abled individuals and potentially
contagious subjects.
Susan Ringler-Cerniglia,
Washtenaw County Public
Health Department public infor-
mation officer, said the exercise
provided a way for the public
health workers to assess poten-
tial areas of improvement in
their procedures. While plans
often look great on paper, she
said problems often come to light
once such plans are implement-
As bottlenecks in the process
were identified, the officials
leading the event were able to
reallocate resources and work-
ers, thus ensuring a smooth flow
of patients through the treat-
ment area. All patients leaving
the POD received a bag of jelly

beans, which represented medi-
cation that would be distributed
in the case of a real-world emer-
Public Health graduate stu-
dent Matthew Shearer, one of
the event coordinators, said
the complexity and variety of
potential public health concerns
makes POD scenarios a "pretty
sizable undertaking." He added
that students can benefit from
seeing simulations rather than
experiencing the procedure for
the first time during a real emer-
gency situation.
"It gives people something
familiar and fun to take part in,
but it also gives us the platform
to really express the important
of preparedness," Shearer said.
"We want to inform the com-
munity that public health pre-
paredness starts with you. We
can put out all of the information
we want, but people need to take
ownership of themselves, their
families and friends and make
sure they have plans and materi-
als available in the event some-

School of Public Health student Alex Riordan pretends to be blind at the Zombie Apocalypse
hosted by the School of Public Health at the Washtenaw County Learning Resource center S

ster preparedness enentKbYwLuuai
layr pTOP LEFT: School of Public Health student Stephanie Filipp is quarantined at the Zombie Apocalypse disaster prepared-
ness event hosted by the School of Public Health at the Washtenaw County Learning Resource center Saturday. BOTTOM
LEFT: School of Public Health students Bradley lott and Erika Trumble pose for a selfie. RIGHT: School of Public Health
student Anna Frick pretends to be-a ten-year old child

School of Public Health student Rachel Jantz is zombified
at the Zombie Apocalypse disaster preparedness event
hosted by the School of Public Health at the Washtenaw
County Learning Resource center Saturday.

TOP: University of Michigan-Dearborn student Elise Mara
does zombie make-up for participants at the Zombie Apoca-
lypse disaster preparedness event. BOTTOM: Associate Epi-
demiology Professor Eden Wells at the Zombie Apocalypse
disaster preparedness event.

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