Disaster preparedness training drill to include zombies

Next month, zombies will be running amok on a 44-acre resort island in San Diego’s Mission Bay.

Halloween falls smack dab in the middle of this year’s annual Counter-Terrorism Summit, hosted by California-based security firm HALO Corp. The Halloween aspect gave HALO President Brad Barker the idea to add a touch of the macabre to the scenario training that the summit provides.

“We’ve decided to throw a whimsical spin on a very well-respected training exercise,” Barker told FOX News. “And in order to have an effective exercise, you have to have a crisis or a threat that makes everyone respond.”

Whimsy is good, and training exercises for the people we hire to protect us are essential. But zombies?

“They’re going to look like the walking dead,” Barker said. “It’s going to be pretty scary looking; this is going to be a real treat.”

That, of course, is what counter-terrorism training exercises are all about — creating the feel of a real threat. And if something unexpected — not to mention very scary — can be thrown into the mix, so much the better.

The whole zombie idea is meant to add another element of confusion to the scenarios. Working through confusion is, after all, an essential job of emergency personnel.

“Whatever the catalyst is for a mass casualty event, nobody really cares,” Barker said. “What you’ve got is chaos, mass casualties and a whole lot of confusion. What we’re looking to do is to recreate the chaos.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention launched a public servicecampaign last year that emphasized the need to be prepared for major emergencies. As a part of its effort, the CDC published a graphic novella titled, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.”

Barker said he “couldn’t resist the opportunity” to play off of that novella.

The Counter-Terrorism Summit will run from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2. Although the zombie exercise is expected to be the highlight of the event, speakers from the United States and Mexico will conduct seminars during the summit’s five days. Topics will include intelligence gleaned the 2008 Mumbai bombing and from attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Lecturers will include Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer, retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden and Mexico Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire Romero, whose position is similar to that of our secretary of state.

“It’s going to be a significant event for us,” Barker said. “We’re just having a little bit of fun.” Fun is good. My only question is, at what cost to the taxpayer?

In the following video, Barker describes the Counter-Terrorism Summit’s purpose, as well as what’s in store for its participants.
[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/embed/3h9HcJ6ERXg w=”425″ h=”349″] 

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