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Posted on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 8:16 a.m.

Zombies to invade Ann Arbor in disaster-preparedness exercise

By Cindy Heflin

If you happen to see a few zombies on the University of Michigan campus today, don’t be alarmed. It’s just a trial run for the Zombie Apocalypse.


Zombies Lindsay Downs, left, and Ginny Hunter, center, walk with others on the University of Michigan campus during the 2012 Ann Arbor Zombie Walk in September.

Daniel Brenner |

U-M’s School of Public health is hosting a zombie invasion Tuesday as a preparedness exercise for a real public health emergency or disaster.

The invasion will include students dressed as zombies, and apparently quite a few folks were dying to participate.

“We have been overrun by zombies. We had to close the registration,” the School of Public Health said on its website.

“The exercise is designed to make students contemplate likely scenarios in disasters and the appropriate response,” the school said in a release. “They are asked to think about community partner organizations and the role each group would play, what to tell the public and when, how to respond if essential services like utilities are lost, what contingency plans should be in place for the elderly and handicapped, and even how to manage the family pets.

The exercise is modeled after a curriculum designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On its website, the CDC notes, "If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack."

Though zombies are invited to wear makeup and engage in some ordinary zombie behavior, the School of Public Health has listed a few rules on its website to keep them from running amok. Among them:

  • Makeup may not drip or flake off or create any residue or mess within the school
  • Zombies may not bring weapons or simulated weapons.
  • Zombies may NOT menace, threaten or make person-to-person contact with individual participants, observers or visitors (a little slow motion chasing is fine. But please do not induce screaming among the chase-ees)
  • Zombie noises are acceptable, within a reasonable volume. And we all know that zombies lurch around and wave their arms. Can't help that.

The event begins at 10 a.m. at the School of Public Health with Michigan Department of Community Health representatives on hand to provide disaster preparedness information and kit checklists for home use. The zombie invasion gets underway at 11:30 and is not open to the public.

The invasion will be over, except for the “cleanup of any unexpected zombie remains,” by 1 p.m., U-M says.



Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

It is said that in the late stages of a rabies infection, the symptoms in humans is pretty similar to that used to depict the behavior evinced by zombies. One might imagine that a bio=weapon attack against thousands of people with the rabies virus might produce mass symptoms similar to those used to motivate this exercise, so the idea is not so far fetched when you move it out of Hollywood plot space and into real world space via a bio-weapon attack.

Jenn McKee

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

The people in charge of this have obviously decided that in order to develop crisis response skills and get students really involved - to the point where their hearts are in it - they have to "think outside the box" (much as I hate that phrase) and make the scenario something fun. As long as pragmatic knowledge and practices are passed along, do we care whether zombies are the "carrot" or not? I say, whatever gets more useful information out to more people more effectively, the better.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

Well stated, Jenn. I was there and I can tell you, the students were more into this - including the educational component - than any classroom exercise I've ever seen.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Also....Dead Island Riptide got released today on PC...the latest Zombie video game.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

When did zombies make the change from Hatian Voodou Zombie ( which have academic documentation as being real) to blood and guts / pandemic zombie? I wish it would go away, it is just gross.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Oh, lighten up. You'll live longer.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

A long time ago...back in the black and white film days I believe.

Morris Thorpe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Awkwardness alert!


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

Hey, that describes me before I have my coffee!!


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

I have my flame thrower. Hot coffee anyone?


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

UpperDecker, I look not only acceptable but pretty darn good "TO" go out in public whether I go out or not. the coffee is just so I don't get headaches. Phffffft!


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

Yes because coffee makes you look acceptable in go out in public.

Jon Wax

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

Aright, most of you aren't gonna get this but: the "zombie" genre is some serious stuff. don't laugh it off. horror movies are always windows into the fears of the community at a particular time: body snatcher/aliens/ufos from the 50s = fear of communism. godzilla, etc = fear of nuclear power jeykl and hyde = fear of our own lack of self control the zombie genre is a scary thing; what ARE zombies? jobless, homeless, braindead masses who will break down your door and eat you out of house and home while destroying your family. that's pretty much the same way that the extreme right views the "lazy welfare" people. if these preparedness drills (and this is not the first one of these i've read about) weren't clothed in the "zombie haha" mentality, then folks might get a lil uncomfortable. the zombie genre dovetails nicely with the doomsday preppers. ever notice the preppers are mostly white, gunowners from the burbs? and where do big ""zombie threats" come from? the "zombies" always originate from the cities. the burbs are the last bastion of civility. so what we have is a genre that is designed to desentsitize you to the plight of your neighbors and actually encourages you to take violent action against same. ok so now most of you are at the "this guy's nuts" point. but here's the thing: turn off the power grid nationally for i dunno... 6 months. EXACT same thing as a "zombie outbreak". and that's why these "training drills" are disturbing: they are a veiled way of preparing folks for basically turning their backs on and going "dog eat dog" agasinst anyone who is a stranger. look up the one they did in cali with their national guard. i believe it was the national guard. it was a "Retrieval" drill that was desgined to work out rescue methods for a "politico" and his entourage after things had gone belly up, "zombiewise" in an urban area. don't laugh this genre of

Jon Wax

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

well... if you guys wanna see it at pop culture value.. .fine go ahead. but remember: some of you are the same ones who blame rap music for cultural violence. how is this any different? odds are most of those folks on this thread wouldn't survive the winter with no electricity. but it's so much more fun and safer to focus on "zombies". cuz they aren't real. Peace Wax

Usual Suspect

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

Jon, you get a whole tin foil HOUSE for this one.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

Call it what you want. I'm just a science fiction fan.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

I'm sorry...did you say run and hide from slow moving zombies? You can clean out an entire horde and take your time about it if they're all slow moving..with MELEE WEAPONS even. You can't get overwhelmed because slow moving zombies are slow... Afraid of being overwhelmed....don't put yourself in that aware of your surroundings. Basically these are all non-issues because the people who don't understand these simple concepts of survival will be dead already and of no concern to us. A zombie apocalypse would be a great filter for the weak willed and wear minded of society. I'd also like to note that there isn't too much difference between a mass murder scenario and a "defending from a horde of undead" scenario. I like to allude to the idea that zombie fans secretly crave mass murder.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

"If it's slow moving zombies....well.....the entire idea that a slow moving zombie is even remotely dangerous is laughable and I won't even discuss it." Slow moving zombies are dangerous the same way we are dangerous to fast moving prey. We would be able to run faster and maybe hide, but eventually we have to stop to rest. Also, if sound, smell attracts them, we'd have to either be very well secluded or part of the terrain and blend in to not attract them. Also, hoards of zombies is where the problem lies, not just individual zombies that you can flee from or easily eliminate.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Wow, you managed to turn this into a political rant. That's what I love about this place. Nice job.

Jon Wax

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

this isn't the "govt" turning anyone on anyone. it's about desensitizing folks to their neighbors troubles. and worse, in times of trouble... these preppers are gonna answer that with guns. no need for the govt to step in and do anything. it's already been done. the genre is a "class warfare" fear based genre. and the folks who are "ready for it when it comes" are the same ones who bought out all the AR15s and the .223 rounds. like i said, don't laugh it off. just picture america 8 months after the grid went down. should be about the EXACT same situation as the tv is portraying it: small groups of folks trying to survive by tooth and nail who kill anyone on sight who wasn't one of "them" to begin with. it pits the folks in the city (who are SCRRREEWED in a situation like this) against the folks in the rural areas who might actually survive it. and that is just another way of basically pitting "poor urban inncer city folks" against "well armed middle and uppermiddle class folks from burbs". go ahead and chuckle. easy to do while the power is on and we can post about it. turn off the grid and it's a whole other story. my guess is the ones who aren't really that worried are the ones with enough guns and ammo to get through . Peace Wax


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

You've made a huge leap in reasoning between "taking zombie derp seriously" and "The government is planning on turning us against each other north-korea-style." That's what it is too....zombie derp. There is no "planning" for a zombie scenario...there's playing games and doing cosplay....but there's no "planning." Most people will panic....even these supposed "preppers" and "zombie fans." When reality hits they'll freak out and have breakdowns because they've never experienced a crisis before. Those people will die off first of course. And of course with zombies, now they're part of the horde too. Also...if it's fast moving zombies....we're all dead, don't even bother trying. If it's slow moving zombies....well.....the entire idea that a slow moving zombie is even remotely dangerous is laughable and I won't even discuss it.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

"The exercise is designed to make students contemplate likely scenarios in disasters and the appropriate response," As much as I am a fan of The Walking dead, having to fight off hoards of zombies is hardly a likely scenario in a disaster. This seems like an epic failure in actually useful but attracting a bunch of zombie fiction fans to play dress up for a day.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

You simply have no idea what you are talking about. NONE. Check out the CDC website. Maybe you didn't notice it was based on a CDC curriculum...?

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Zombies have been quite popular in education lately. I know some high schools are assigning World War Z, a novel featuring zombies, to students. Also, Michigan State University offered a course called 'Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse' last year and the University of Michigan offered a course titled "Talking Dead" last fall, in which the prof channeled long-deceased thinkers like Socrates and acted as if he was the philosopher's zombie. Here's an article we wrote on the U-M class:

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

I would bet courses like those are really popular with students. Any class description with a little bit of color is sure to grab people's attention. I took a comparative lit class comparing mob movies and The Odyssey/The Iliad. Awesome!

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Mady, consider it done. I've added it to my library wish list.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

"They're Coming To Get You, Barbara"...............classic line from "Night of the Living Dead". Kellie, if you haven't seen this cult classic at least once, I highly recommend it!


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

Hipsters are quite popular too......

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Also, here's an MLive link about the MSU course which, if I recall correctly, got a lot of national attention:

David Cahill

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Hilarious! It might even be useful.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

I have my flame thrower. Think it will work?


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

Stupid way to do a serious exercise such as disaster preparedness. Get serious.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

You ever think some people learn through fun? Sorry you got slapped on the wrist with a ruler so many times, and made to sit in the corner. Some people don't need every moment to be S E R I O U S, even when the topic is. Try a little creativity.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

How many students do you think would volunteer to take part in a tabletop flu pandemic scenario? 2, maybe 3 if their grade depended on it? This is a way to get students excited and willing to participate in what would otherwise be an incredibly boring exercise.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

Glad you told me. Otherwise, I would have thought it was another Freshman class orientation. :)


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

I was thinking...but hash bash is over...


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

I really wish this zombie craze would die already. Again.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

I agree with this one. Would it just die and go away. I mean literally just go away?

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

I'm with ya' fjord. Then again whatever replaces the Zombie craze could be worse...


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

I hate zombies.....a's so played out. I can't even get into The Walking Dead because zombies are so amazingly uncool right now.....and that show is AWESOME...I love Michael Rooker.

Jon Wax

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

you're semi screwed. World War Z won't be out for another couple months and when it comes out it's prolly gonna actually trend into EVERYTHING because the movie is gonna be intense. read the book. it's a great read. the movie should be good but isn't based on the book. pitt just bought the rights. Peace Wax


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

The leaders and best ..... what a waste. Why are tax dollars being wasted on this?


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Tthis is what I call eminent domain.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

Practicing helps in the real world. I heard emergency physicians say over and over that the practices they held were invaluable when the victims of the Boston Marathon bombs came into their hospitals.

Cory C

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

Because it's fun! And because a couple extra cans of beans, and a first aid kit could literally make the difference between life and death.