The 4th annual zombie apocalypse simulation, Bounce Day, took place this past fall and gave many medical students first-hand experience on handling a community disaster. As an organizer and participant, I saw the event unfold in a perfect combination of organized chaos that gave me a glimpse into what might actually happen in a real-life disaster environment. Our goal was to help prepare medical professionals and the local community to “bounce back” from large-scale disasters and become more comfortable in handling crisis situations.
Volunteer actors portrayed local community members infected with the deadly, and thankfully fictitious, HADAD virus (Hemorrhagic Acral Dermatitis with Anesthetic Delirium). Leading up to the event, participants received fake news reports chronicling HADAD’s path of destruction from its point of origin in the Iowa cornfields, ultimately resulting in the virus reaching Rochester, Minnesota and turning much of the local population into zombie-like victims. Bounce Day participants were asked to manage this crisis by helping refugees, securing the area from zombie attack, and helping to treat the infected and injured.
Mayo Clinic hosted this event along with support from the U.S. Army, Olmsted County Public Health, the Boy Scouts, and other community members. Hundreds of actors, students, faculty members, and emergency responders came to the simulation and mimicked a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) zombie apocalypse type of scenario. As I walked across the property at Gamehaven Scout Camp, I saw everything from triage to vaccination campaigns, first aid stations, and refugee camps. This complex set-up demonstrated the multi-faceted approach necessary to tackle disasters. Medical students participated by acting as first-responders as well as members of the medical team responsible for triaging and stabilizing the sick and injured.
It was great seeing my fellow medical students working in multi-disciplinary teams in an attempt to overcome the HADAD virus disaster. No matter how silly or unrealistic a zombie apocalypse may sound, the Bounce Day exercise helped us develop valuable real-world skills that will help us in our future careers.
To read more about disaster preparedness, check out the CDC's website (http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm)
Lauren, a second year medical student, is a member of the Bounce Day Planning Committee and is interested in pediatrics, global health, and emergency medicine. She is originally from Ogdensburg, New York, and enjoys hiking, running, and reading.