Thursday, April 17, 2014

Zombie apocalypse drill gets axe

MONTREAL—There will be no zombie apocalypse in Quebec next week.
The provincial government has stepped in to cancel plans for a zombie-themed emergency training exercise.

Participants at an annual symposium on civil security had been planning to use a hypothetical zombie attack to test emergency preparedness.
Such a theme has been used elsewhere. The logic behind it is to use something that can never actually occur, as opposed to a flood or an ice storm, because that way emergency-preparedness officials might think of new problems and solutions.
News of the plan had elicited many guffaws this week, along with some complaints about wasteful government spending.
So now the provincial cabinet has stepped in. Public Security minister Stephane Bergeron announced in a press release today that he has ordered a change of plans.
The new scenario will simulate a flood.
“I thought . . . the theme of the workshop had taken on a greater importance than its goal and that it was better to change it,” Bergeron said in a statement.
He added he took the decision “so as not to undermine the real purpose of the activity, which is and remains a very important exercise for civil security.”
Bergeron said he decided to make the change after discussing it with others in the department.
The idea of a zombie apocalypse even made its way to the House of Commons yesterday, where the NDP asked the Conservatives about the country’s level of zombie preparedness.
Foreign Affairs minister John Baird assured that “Canada would never be a safe haven for zombies.”
A civil servant with Quebec’s civil security department had told The Canadian Press earlier this week that the zombie exercise, used in the United States and elsewhere in Canada in recent years, is designed to get officials to think outside the box.
A spokesman said that when officials discuss an issue they’ve already lived through, it’s easy to get caught up in old habits.
Hypothetical zombie attacks are becoming a popular emergency preparedness teaching tool. Even the Centers for Disease Control in the United States has used the tactic.
Last September, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security held a similar exercise as part of a campaign to encourage better preparation for genuine disasters and emergencies.
In Canada, British Columbia conducted a similar exercise last May—offering tips on how to prepare for and fend off a fake zombie apocalypse.
The B.C. government said at the time that it hoped the exercise would generate awareness of social media tools that could help the public in real emergencies.

More stories