Strange news caught my eye recently. Eaten face and severed limb news appeared simultaneously. They were ghoulish to the point of prompting the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to reiterate, with tongue in disease-free cheek, its “No Zombie Apocalypse” statement. From a public relations perspective, this was a clever way to re-broadcast and reinforce the mission of the CDC.
And now the city of Bangor, Maine, just held an official zombie response exercise. Emergency managers called it a legitimate, but lighthearted, test for first responders.
Being familiar with the mission and the work done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), I began to wonder: What if there was a zombie attack? Would FEMA be prepared?
If you’ve had similar concerns, rest easy. After an audit of FEMA policy and procedures, I’ve determined that, with minor zombie tweaking to fit this bio-hazard scenario, FEMA seems up to the challenge.
Seriously, FEMA has an impressive library of online documents that explain what it calls the cycle of disaster management and organizes that cycle into planning, preparing, recovering and rebuilding stages. All these stages follow comprehensive guidelines and incorporate lessons learned over time. There’s always room for revision, even to address zombies.
I learned about the Target Capabilities Lists that accompany the National Preparedness Guidelines using the Whole Community Approach. I even read about FEMA’s access and functional needs planning for the disabled. I read about the emphasis with state-local-tribal partnerships and coordination with state and local emergency managers and other disaster responders. This is a good solid base for anything, I thought. Even zombies.
As a public affairs professional, I thought specifically about the intergovernmental coordination and the response and recovery communication channels necessary in a zombie scenario. What would be unique changes in policy and in external communications requirements?
Could science quickly determine and broadcast the cause? Maybe the CDC finds it began with hemisphere-wide contamination from a passing asteroid, like the recent 2012 LZ1. What would be the federal chain of command? Would first responders include armed but trained civilian militia? Would zombie remains be considered hazardous material by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? How do you mitigate against future zombie attacks? Are zombies terrorists? Do they have rights?
Enough speculation. There is good reason to give a shout out to FEMA. It has a tough mission, especially with recent local wildfire response, but seems ready, with skilled leadership who get smarter all the time. And with tweaking, even smarter about zombies.