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Boone County to get zombie training

By Candace Nelson

A slew of slack-shouldered, lumbering zombies will infest an area high school on Saturday.

As part of the Boone County Health Department's zombie apocalypse training, Scott High School will welcome hundreds dressed in zombie garb to test the county's emergency preparedness planning.

"All health departments in the state and all states in the country are having some sort of emergency preparedness planning to medicate the county effectively and efficiently in the event of a disaster or outbreak," said Lisa Holstein, an office assistant at the Boone County Health Department.

The drill is to help prepare the health department, community partners and the public in the event of a bioterrorism attack.

The health department opted to incorporate zombies in the mix this year to gain public attention.

"We've done normal drills in the past, and we haven't seen much community support," Holstein said.

"We'll get about 20 or so volunteers, and it's hard to measure accurately how you're doing if you have to keep recycling folks."

Holstein hopes to see at least 100 volunteers.

The health department is recruiting volunteers to come through a POD - a point of dispensing - where the zombies will become "de-zombied," Holstein said. Usually, a POD is for prevention to keep people well, but in this situation, it turns them normal with the "medicine": M&Ms or Skittles.

Prizes for best zombie - male and female, best walk, best groan and best overall - will be awarded.

West Virginia University Extension Agent Dave Roberts said he and his children plan to dress up for the event.

"I think it's important to get the community involved and aware of some of the different services the health department has," he said.

"We've done several of the POD drills in the past, and it's hard to catch the public's attention. I believe preparing for a zombie apocalypse will get their attention."

Area police, ambulances and emergency services will be on hand to take part in the exercise, as well.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a "tongue-in-cheek" zombie apocalypse campaign two years ago to engage new audiences with preparedness messages, according to its website.

The platform turned out to be effective, and they continue to reach audiences about hazard preparedness.

Ali Khan, U.S. assistant surgeon general and director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, said on their website, "If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack."

The exercise will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Scott High School in Boone County. The event is open to the public. For more information, contact Lisa Holstein with the Boone County Health Department at 304-369-7967.

Contact writer Candace Nelson at or 304-348-5148. Follow her at



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