Date: October 19, 2011
Abstract: A central Ohio county is preparing for a zombie outbreak on Halloween, hoping to train responders for more likely emergencies through an exercise inspired by a tongue-in-cheek blog posting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that urged people to be prepared for a "zombie apocalypse."
More than 225 volunteers in Delaware County north of Columbus signed up to dress as zombies Monday in a drill for officials who would deal with real-life situations involving hazardous materials and disaster response. Emergency responders will test their capabilities as they use standard decontamination procedures to "treat" the zombies and make them "human" again during the exercise at Ohio Wesleyan University.
"People got zombie fever here in Delaware," said Jesse Carter, a spokesman for the local health district.
The exercise and dozens more outreach efforts across the country were inspired by an online post from the CDC. It attempted to spice up the usual emergency preparedness advice - have a plan, make an emergency kit with water and food, and so on - by tapping into the cultural popularity of the zombie theme. The May blog posting got 30,000 hits in one day, and it continues to draw thousands of visitors daily, said Maggie Smith of the CDC's public health preparedness office.
Smith said dozens of agencies have embraced the idea, spreading the message that if you're prepared for a zombie attack, you're prepared for just about anything. Officials around the country have requested copies of the CDC posters depicting dirty-fingered zombies peering out above text such as "Be Prepared." In Kansas, officials dubbed October "Zombie Preparedness Month" and held a "zombie walk" in Topeka on Saturday.
"They had a genius idea, and I definitely wanted to tag on and run with that one," said Devan Tucking of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. "I couldn't pass up zombies."
Tucking said the theme seemed to be doing its job, attracting more attention from people who otherwise might ignore preparedness outreach efforts, especially younger generations.
Cindi Blair, a Delaware County human resources employee, said the Ohio exercise gave her a reason to talk about emergency preparedness with her 10- and 11-year-old sons.
"I think it's very creative," said Blair, who plans to dress up with her boys for the drill. "I think it puts a little bit of fun in with a serious drill."
Delaware County is the first in Ohio to hold a zombie-themed hazardous materials exercise, according to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and other emergency officials around the state are keeping an eye on how things go.
"They want to see what lessons we learn, and they like the idea of getting out the zombie preparedness message" about bracing for the unexpected," said Carter, the health district spokesman. "The other message that we're trying to convey is come be a zombie."
Organizers hoped the theme would attract more volunteers than previous simulations of industrial accidents or train crashes. As an extra treat, they're offering prizes for the most outstanding costume and makeup and the best zombie walk (NBC4i, 2011).Title: Drills Of The Dead: Maine Prepares For Zombie Attack
Date: June 25, 2012
Source: Russia Today
Abstract: Emergency officials in Maine have taken part in a training exercise in preparation for a zombie apocalypse. This comes just weeks after the federal government publicly denied the existence of zombies.
Around 100 emergency responders from eight different counties participated in the event in the quiet city of Bangor.
The premise: an unknown virus originating from Jamaica has reached Maine, turning the infected into zombies. Once infected, the virus quickly spreads to the brain, and turns the host into a full-fledged zombie, who has only one thing on its mind: biting other people.
The officials were armed with two would-be vaccines – one to prevent the infection from reaching the brain, and one to bring the zombies back to life.
“We have identified in several states, particularly Texas, New York, Illinois outbreaks of these civil disturbances and biting,” one official said. “And in conjunction with that there are also widespread power outages.”
The event may have been a staged act, with locals playing zombies, but it gave emergency responders an opportunity to prepare for a real life epidemic.
“This gives us the opportunity to do something a little bit different, but it still has the same principles that would apply in a real situation,” Kathy Knight, director of the Northeastern Maine Regional Resource Center told the Bangor Daily News. Emergency workers "need to figure out what they need, how they’re going to respond and how they are going to share their resources to respond to the disaster. They need to know who to go to outside their community to find the resources they don’t have, so it’s a different twist.”
The training exercise comes just several weeks after the US Center for Disease Control publicly denied the existence of zombies.
Rumors of a “zombie apocalypse” have been on the rise after a series of disturbing incidents.
In Florida, police caught a naked man chewing on the face of another person. They eventually shot him dead after unsuccessfully trying to push him away from the victim.
In Maryland, an engineering student allegedly stabbed a man to death and ate his heart and brain.In Canada, a porn actor was detained on charges that he had killed and dismembered his lover. He is alleged to have recorded a video of himself copulating with some of the body parts, and consuming others. He is also suspected of sending the limbs of the victim to the headquarters of political parties, as well as two schools in Vancouver (Russia Today, 2012).
Title: Security Firm To Hold Zombie Crisis Scenario
Date: September 19, 2012
Source: USA Today
Abstract: Next month, a security firm will incorporate -- no kidding -- zombies into a disaster-crisis scenario at the company's annual Counter-Terrorism Summit here.
The five-day event will provide hands-on training, realistic demonstrations, lectures and classes geared to more than 1,000 military personnel, law enforcement officials, medical experts, and state and federal government workers.
The far-fetched scenario of a government grappling a zombielike threat -- think movies like "Night of the Living Dead" or, more comically, "Zombieland" -- captured the imagination of President Brad Barker of HALO Corp.
HALO will take over the 44-acre Paradise Point resort in the city's popular Mission Bay and create a series of terrorist scenarios, with immersive Hollywood sets including a Middle Eastern village and a pirates' haven. Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA and National Security Agency director, and Mexico Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire Romero will speak during the summit, which runs Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.
Barker calls the scenario "Zombie Apocalypse." That phrase took off last year after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled a campaign aimed on being prepared for major emergencies, natural disasters and pandemics.
In the CDC's Preparedness 101 program, fictional zombies are used to drive home the message that Americans must be ready for any emergency -- even the kind that, hypothetically, could stem from a brain-eating virus pandemic.
Zombies also star in a 40-page comic book the CDC published, a tongue-in-cheek take on the serious scenario of a mutated virus that quickly spreads as the government dispatches its military to maintain order while infectious disease specialists scour for a vaccine.
"The 'Zombie Apocalypse' is very whimsical," Barker said, noting the setting is intended to add some levity to the more dire scenarios summit goers will encounter -- incidents depicting active shooters inside a hospital or downed pilots trapped behind enemy lines, for instance. The pandemic medical nightmare is bound to be an attention-getter among people attending the summit.
"They are going to see a lot of stuff go down," Barker said. "It is a Hollywood production."
The zombies who roam the island will harass the troops, first-aid teams and medical responders participating, Barker said. HALO declined to detail the scenario just yet, saying only that the idea is to challenge authorities as they respond to extreme medical situations where people become crazed and violent, creating widespread fear and disorder.
For the record: Zombies are not real. However, earlier this year the word was used rather liberally to describe a rash of incidents involving cannibalistic attacks -- the most high-profile of which involved one man biting the flesh off another man's face in late May in Miami. Police suspect drugs, not a brain-eating virus, provoked the attack.
Beyond zombies, the HALO event will weave in lessons learned from real disasters and terror events, including attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deadly 2008 bombing in Mumbai, India. Cyber terrorism will have a leading role in sessions and courses throughout the summit.
"The new battlefield is cyberspace, for sure," Barker said.
That means that during the summit, participants' cellphones and email accounts could be hacked, said Tim McAtee, a former Marine now working as HALO's tactical operations director. Some might be rattled when they realize how easy it is for a hostile force to compromise their personal information and what the broader national-security implications of a cyber attack could be.
"The awareness is going to be monumental," he said.
HALO is composed of former military special operators as well as intelligence and national security experts. The company trains military units and federal and state agencies in security, counterterrorism, force protection, emergency response and disaster management.
To help pull off such an elaborate production, HALO has partnered with Strategic Operations Inc., which specializes in hyper-realistic tactical and combat trauma training that makes use of special effects and actors.The company has helped train thousands of sailors, soldiers and Marines in counterinsurgency missions, urban patrols, security operations and combat trauma in the past decade at its San Diego training studio and on military bases (USA Today, 2012).
Marines, Police Prep For Mock Zombie Invasion
Date: October 27, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: Move over vampires, goblins and haunted houses, this kind of Halloween terror aims to shake up even the toughest warriors: An untold number of so-called zombies are coming to a counterterrorism summit attended by hundreds of Marines, Navy special operations forces, soldiers, police, firefighters and others to prepare them for their worst nightmares.
"This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party," said Brad Barker, president of Halo Corp, a security firm hosting the Oct. 31 training demonstration during the summit at a 44-acre Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay. "Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened, it just hasn't happened all at once on the same night. But the training is very real, it just happens to be the bad guys we're having a little fun with."
Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.
In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes. The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies. At one point, some members of the team are bitten by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment.
"No one knows what the zombies will do in our scenario, but quite frankly no one knows what a terrorist will do," Barker said. "If a law enforcement officer sees a zombie and says, `Freeze, get your hands in the air!' What's the zombie going to do? He's going to moan at you. If someone on PCP or some other psychotic drug is told that, the truth is he's not going to react to you."
The keynote speaker beforehand will be a retired top spook -- former CIA Director Michael Hayden.
"No doubt when a zombie apocalypse occurs, it's going to be a federal incident, so we're making it happen," Barker said. Since word got out about the exercise, they've had calls from "every whack job in the world" about whether the U.S. government is really preparing for a zombie event.
Called "Zombie Apocalypse," the exercise follows the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's campaign launched last year that urged Americans to get ready for a zombie apocalypse, as part of a catchy, public health message about the importance of emergency preparedness.
The Homeland Security Department jumped on board last month, telling citizens if they're prepared for a zombie attack, they'll be ready for real-life disasters like a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake or terrorist attack. A few suggestions were similar to a few of the 33 rules for dealing with zombies popularized in the 2009 movie "Zombieland," which included "always carry a change of underwear" and "when in doubt, know your way out."
San Diego-based Halo Corp. founded by former military special ops and intelligence personnel, has been hosting the annual counterterrorism summit since 2006.
The five-day Halo counterterrorism summit is an approved training event by the Homeland Security Grant Program and the Urban Areas Security Initiative, which provide funds to pay for the coursework on everything from the battleground tactics to combat wounds to cybersecurity. The summit has a $1,000 registration fee and runs Oct. 29-Nov 2.
Conferences attended by government officials have come under heightened scrutiny following an inspector general's report on waste and abuse at a lavish 2010 Las Vegas conference that led to the resignation of General Services Administrator Martha Johnson. The Las Vegas conference featured a clown, a mind-reader and a rap video by an employee who made fun of the spending.
Joe Newman, spokesman of the watchdog organization Project on Government Oversight, said he does not see the zombie exercise as frivolous.
"We obviously are concerned about any expenditure that might seem frivolous or a waste of money but if they tie things together, there is a lesson there," Newman said. "Obviously we're not expecting a zombie apocalypse in the near future, but the effects of what might happen in a zombie apocalypse are probably similar to the type of things that happen in natural disasters and manmade disasters. They're just having fun with it. We don't have any problems with it as a teaching point."
Defense analyst Loren Thompson agreed.
"The defining characteristics of zombies are that they're unpredictable and resilient. That may be a good way to prepare for what the Pentagon calls asymmetric warfare," Thompson said.
Organizers can also avoid the pitfalls of using a mock enemy who could be identified by nationality, race or culture -- something that could potentially be seen as offensive.
"I can think of a couple of countries where the local leaders are somewhat zombie-like," he joked. "But nobody is going to take this personally" (Fox News, 2012).