Over the past few years, zombie fever has swept the nation thanks to shows like the Walking Dead and the Real Housewives franchise. But what would happen if this phenomenon left the realm of pop culture and entered the real world? Would today’s nursing and healthcare professionals be prepared to handle the unique challenges posed by a zombie outbreak?
An instructor prepares the simulation for nervous students
Thanks to Nebraska Methodist College, now they will. The college is thrilled to unveil the region’s first ever Zombie Patient Simulator, or ZPS. Students will be able to discover precisely what it’s like to care for a patient who is unknowingly turning into a bloodthirsty husk of the undead. The hope among professors is that this simulated environment will prepare students for any potential future zombie outbreaks.
The ZPS...And You!
The ZPS is the latest in a long line of simulations offered by the college. Already, nursing students have been put through the paces by technology designed to simulate what it’s like to deliver a baby or treat a patient going through any number of health problems. The ZPS, however, takes this method of instruction to the next level.
“The ZPS actually uses the same state of the art technology found in Smartwatches,” said Dr. April Folson, head coordinator for NMC’s Undead Instructional Certification Course. “From a control room, an instructor can input commands to test a student’s capabilities. That instructor can actually react to the student’s movements in real-time. Did the student forget to strap the patient down mid-transformation? That’s a one way ticket to bites-ville.”
Students feel the texture of the zombie's skin mid-transformation while an instructor demonstrates the typical ambulatory motions of an undead subject
“But don’t worry,” said Dr. Folson with a chuckle. “The teeth on the zombie mannequin can’t actually do any damage. They have kind of a gummy feel to them. If the simulated patient is actually able to wrap its teeth around a nurse, all the student will feel is a light shock, sort of like an intense game of Operation.”
How It Works
A number of scenarios are presented to students. Initially, a patient will present symptoms consistent with zombie virus transmission. The skin will feel clammy and the mutterings of the patient will grow incoherent. Following that, the pulse will quicken before completely flatlining. After a certain amount of time has passed, the eyelids will flutter and the patient will come back to life as an undead feeding machine. Students must identify the malady during that timeframe and properly secure and quarantine the patient before it can wreak havoc on the staff.
A student prepares to drive a medical instrument into a zombie's head
Advanced courses will actually give students a chance to save the patient from becoming one of the undead. The mannequin will have bloody bite marks on its leg, suggesting a potential window of opportunity. The student must act quickly to use a nearby bonesaw to cut off the appendage in question (the mannequins are equipped with two fully detachable arms and two fully detachable legs filled with simulated viscera). If they move promptly and fasten the necessary tourniquette to staunch the bleeding, it’s actually possible to prevent zombification.
Once the mannequin has turned completely undead, however, the student must determine the best manner with which to provide an incapacitating blow to the head. While numerous medical tools will be available for such a task, instructors provide bonus points to the student who chooses the most efficient zombie weapon (hint: the sharper the better!).
Interested in taking part in next quarter's inaugural zombie simulation course? Then register online at methodistcollege.edu/this-is-an-april-fools-joke.