Q&A: Spokane Fire explains zombie preparedness | Weird
For a moment we thought Spokane was undergoing a scene from Dawn of the Dead. A news release sent by Spokane Fire suggested our worst fears with an 8:36 a.m. email titled, “Zombie Preparedness”.
Sleepy newsies checking their email for the first time on Tuesday might have thought Spokane Fire’s email was hacked. Councilman Jon Snyder emailed us to say he thought it was a belated April Fools prank.
It was real. Kind of. Spokane Fire was using the zombie technique made famous by the Center of Disease Control to teach safety measures and how to be prepared in the worst case scenario.
They compare real life dangers to zombie outbreaks and share how to stay safe in case of earthquakes or pandemics. Spokane Fire lead their safety list with water and food to stay safe, ending with first aid supplies noting if you’re bitten by a zombie, you’re a goner.
We spoke with assistant fire chief Brian Schaeffer about zombie preparedness and a few fire crews hanging around Fire Station 1 in downtown Spokane. They shared their thoughts on zombie survival and why they went with the zombie technique.
We ask assistant fire chief Brian Schaeffer, what inspired a zombie news release?
Schaeffer: "The theory or concept behind a zombie metaphor came from the Center of Disease Control and it’s one of their interesting marketing campaign that they use to get people’s attention to think about some of the worst case scenarios and how to plan for those. Their message gets old and tiring.
People nowadays are driven by social media. This is something they can flash on social media and really get some feedback and get people interested, enthused and drawn into the message. I borrowed it from them. We’re using it to grab people and bring them in.
It’s important. Disasters don’t just occur on the coast, but they occur in small towns like Spokane."
How does this help explain your message?
Schaeffer: "We really have to reach that group of people that have that natural interest. We’re trying to tap into the group of people that we’re sworn to protect that don’t necessarily subscribe to the boring press releases.
We need to be able to connect with them, bring them in and force them to read it because they’re interested. It’s proven successful, we’ve been getting hits on our website, Facebook and other social media. It connected with people that I don’t know if we would have necessarily connected with before.
If they can pick up one safety message from our interaction then we’re doing our job and doing our job without a lot of impact to the budget. Because most often the messages I send out, I’m in my pajamas on my couch. They aren’t necessarily in an office in a bureaucratic frame of mind. I’m either traveling to the scene, or I’m on the couch, from my deck. Whatever. It allows you to have a 24 hour presence without having to be in the uniform in the office."
If Spokane is hit with an outbreak, what do you do?
Schaeffer: "Very similar to a volcanic eruption, earthquake or wildlife fire, we have to rely on people being prepared.
The list of survival zombie equipment that we suggested that everybody carry, those are truly life saving: a gallon of water for each person in the house, toiletries, special documents. That can be used if you’re under attack by zombies or if we come knocking at your door reporting a wildfire and an ordered evacuation.
All that equipment and information should be ready to go. You should be able to leave your house immediately and go somewhere much safer."
How long can these supplies last?
Schaeffer: "At least 48 hours. That’s our goal that everyone is prepared to continue because zombie attacks can last a long time. It could be eternity. You have to be prepared."
We ask deputy fire marshal Brett Hatcher, how can firefighters fend against zombies?
Hatcher: "We use universal precautions. We’re going to have rubber gloves on. Galoshes. Anything to keep ourselves from being exposed.
People would have a tough time rolling a fire truck... I think we’d be okay."
We ask deputy fire chief Bob Hanna, in worst case scenario, what’s your job to protect people?
Hanna: "In certain instances, we have pre-plans on how we would handle an incident.
For the unforeseen incidents like zombies, we could gather senior staff. If it’s wide-spread we would go to our incident management team with the county and we would get together and start addressing the issues.
We start researching and try to find out what is involved or what’s happening or where it’s going to be. If it’s concentrated here or there, we’ll send resources to deal with what needs to be dealt with at that site. If it’s a moving target then we try to figure out where that’s going to be moving to.
We try to manage resources and if there’s certain things, zombie land and you need a stake or silver bullet, we’ll try to team up with local law enforcement."