Posted February 13, 2014 by Jon Tucker 

Zombie (or Disaster) Preparation and Survival

With the return of the Walking Dead on AMC, my mind invariably returns to zombies. My former colleagues would not be surprised by this fact. Show of hands: How many of you have given thought about where you would hide out in the event of a zombie “apocalypse?” Have you determined your safe place on campus or your student union? If you haven’t read The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, who also wrote World War Z, I would recommend it.Zombie Outbreak Post

Given the large campus population and urban environment of the University of Nevada–Las Vegas, I certainly wouldn’t choose to remain here because the sheer population of tourist zombies could be overwhelming. I am pretty sure there was a reason why Rick and the others from the show fled the city environment so early. They didn’t go completely out in the middle-of-nowhere, however, since they still must procure supplies and food. It gets you thinking about all of the options.

Well, maybe not really thinking—there are more practical topics to think about. But what about disasters in general? Are you and your staff prepared for the possibilities that could strike?

Our friends in hurricane country are familiar with those disasters, tornado alley universities have set procedures in place, and those in California and on the West Coast think in terms of earthquakes frequently enough. What about those disasters about which you don’t think? Or how prepared is your student union in the event that a calamity or emergency lasts for an extended period of time?

I highly recommend thinking about and being strategic with your student union regarding any disaster that might hit. Those might be unexpected earthquakes, volcanoes, fires, floods, tornadoes, etc. There are a lot of questions that you should ask yourselves for preparation purposes.

  • What supplies do you have access to?
  • If you have time to prepare, do you have staff in place?
  • Are your student staff trained for disasters that may happen when professional staff are typically not working? What if you are unable to get to your facility due to the disaster?
  • What does your campus have in place for your facility during an emergency? Will they be makeshift residence hall spaces, faculty offices, food service facilities, emergency staging areas? If you don’t know, you need to find out.
  • Do you have a plan for resumption of normal operations as soon as possible after an emergency? What about your vendors and retail areas? How do you help get them back?
  • How will you communicate and delegate during emergencies?
  • Do you have contacts in place with police and emergency services? Does FEMA have information that would be helpful for your preparation (first aid supplies, portable restrooms, water purification, and the like)?

Las Vegas has the benefit of facing only a few emergencies. Wildfires are rare and unlikely to make it this far into the city. Earthquakes are possible in this area as well. and in an urban area, we might be a location where people gather—including from the community. Heat is the biggest danger. If we lose our air conditioning, there is nothing quite like 110 degrees to get your attention. Losing access to water in a drought is another serious concern.

Take some time to plan and think about these topics. Have resources available. Those plans will be invaluable in the event that the worst-case scenario happens.

Besides, if the zombies do attack, you will know where those resources are and be able to get out alive.

Jon Tucker

Jon Tucker is the Director, Student Union & Event Services at University of Nevada–Las Vegas.

Jon has nearly 20 years of professional experience in student affairs and has authored of two books on icebreakers and teambuilders.

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