ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- Disaster training allows emergency response crews to sharpen their skills in the event of a tragic event. Specific scenarios are selected to offer a wide range of challenges, and this year's subject could be the most unique topic yet.
The term "epidemic" is enough to send a chill down your spine, and that is exactly why the Center for Disease Control has communities doing drills, but Rochester added a twist.
"To get younger learners and get the communities interested in epidemics, they came up on the zombie theme because it was very popular," says Walter Franz, an organizer for the disaster drill.
Yes, he did say zombies.
The CDC has protocol in place in case of an infectious outbreak, or what some would call a "zombie apocalypse." Mayo Medical students and Boy and Girl Scout volunteers experienced first-hand what it may be like if a disease breaks out.
"They're learning how to do litter carries, they're learning how to stay calm in a very difficult situation," says Elizabeth Hillebrand, a Mayo Medical student. "Our main goal is to keep everybody safe and to have them have fun in this type of environment."
While a zombie apocalypse may be a bit unusual for a disaster drill, it does get everybody ready for realistic scenarios and even more than one tragic event.
"Working as a team, following direction and instruction," explains Franz. "We think that is absolutely invaluable and that extends to all our learners. There could be a mass epidemic and we may have to deal not so much with trauma or some type of infrastructure collapse, but a large number of patients and all of the natural confusion that develops."
As long as they were able to avoid those pesky zombies, everyone who participated is taking away a wealth of experience, just in case we ever actually face them.
The Boy and Girl Scouts who were there also earned valuable merit badges for what they learned at the drill. Organizers also say a zombie apocalypse drill prepares everyone for multiple types of disaster scenarios, making the training even more useful.
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