48 MAY 2016 Consulting
1: 45 PM: The Fire Department responds to a call
of an explosion at a biological lab.
2: 30 PM: The 911 call center notices a spike in
calls of people reporting semi-conscious citizens
walking down the middle of the road coming from
the local biological lab.
2: 45 PM: Hospitals report a sudden surge of people
coming in with bite marks all over their bodies reporting that the bites came from “zombie-like people”
roaming the streets.
Zombies have an everlasting place in our popular culture—from the scary movies we watched as kids, to Michael Jackson’s
Thriller video, to a resurgence of zombie-themed
movies such as World War Z and television shows
like The Walking Dead. There are even zombie survival workouts (there are a scary number of these
available online!) and survival meal plans.
In October of 2015, U.S. News & World Report
released its findings for the most resilient U.S. cit-
ies against a zombie attack in the article “Where
You Should Go to Survive the Impending Zombie
Apocalypse”. Of 53 U.S. cities, Boston ranked No.
1 in survivability, followed by Baltimore at No. 4
and Washington D.C. at No. 11.
New York City came in last. Research was based
on factors like population density, industrial resources, skilled labor concentration, and medical facilities. Even some government agencies, including the
Center for Disease Control (CDC), recognized the
impact of zombies on society. The CDC’s assistant
surgeon general wrote a “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse” blog article to instruct people on
what to do during a zombie apocalypse. These CDC
instructions inspired many drills in multiple states
across the country. Even the Pentagon laid out a
battle plan against zombies!
So why all of this focus on zombies? What is
the connection of this highly improbable event to
real-world emergency preparedness?
INDIVIDUAL PREPAREDNESS. For the average citizen,
the zombie is an image that almost everyone can
abstractly relate to—they can perceive the urgency
in responding to a zombie attack and protecting the
rest of the citizenry from further zombie infection,
even if it is an improbable threat.
By producing something as simple as a
light-hearted ranking of safe zombie cities as U.S.
News & World Report did, people are encouraged
to think about preparedness. Boston residents
may sleep a little easier after seeing their that city
ranked No. 1 in zombie-reliance while New Yorkers may start to assemble that home preparedness
kit they have been meaning to do for some time.
PARALLELS TO REAL-WORLD BIOLOGICAL OUTBREAKS. For emergency managers, zombie scenarios
encompass many of the same challenges that are
present in real-world biological outbreaks: medical
response, bacterial or viral containment, biological
The Highly Improbable Zombie Attack…
And Why Your Clients Are Concerned
BY JEFF ROTH