US anti-terrorism summit to stage 'zombie crisis'

Military and first responders to observe exercise in which 'unpredictable enemy' unleashes crisis

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2012, 3:55am

Move over vampires, goblins and haunted houses, this kind of Halloween terror aims to shake up even the toughest warriors.

An untold number of so-called zombies are coming to a counterterrorism summit attended by hundreds of US Marines, Navy special operations forces, soldiers, police, firefighters and others to prepare them for their worst nightmares.

"This is a very real exercise. This is not some type of big costume party," said Brad Barker, president of Halo, a security firm hosting a training demonstration on Wednesday during the summit at an 18-hectare Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay in the state of California. "Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened; it just hasn't happened all at once on the same night. But the training is very real; it just happens to be the bad guys we're having a little fun with."

Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.

In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes. The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies. At one point, some members of the team are bitten by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment.

"No one knows what the zombies will do in our scenario, but quite frankly no one knows what a terrorist will do," Barker said. "If a law enforcement officer sees a zombie and says, 'Freeze, get your hands in the air!' What's the zombie going to do? He's going to moan at you. If someone on PCP or some other psychotic drug is told that, the truth is he's not going to react to you."

The keynote speaker beforehand will be a retired top intelligence expert - Michael Hayden, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

"No doubt when a zombie apocalypse occurs, it's going to be a federal incident, so we're making it happen," Barker said. Since word got out about the exercise, they've had calls from "every whack job in the world" about whether the US government is really preparing for a zombie event.

Called "Zombie Apocalypse", the exercise follows the federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's campaign launched last year that urged Americans to get ready for a zombie apocalypse, as part of a public health message about the importance of emergency preparedness.

The Homeland Security Department jumped on board last month, telling citizens if they're prepared for a zombie attack, they'll be ready for real-life disasters like a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake or terrorist attack. A few suggestions were similar to a few of the 33 rules for dealing with zombies popularised in the 2009 movie Zombieland , which included "always carry a change of underwear" and "when in doubt, know your way out".

Organisers avoid the pitfalls of using a mock enemy who could be identified by nationality, race or culture, which could potentially be seen as offensive.