by Emily Greenstein, APRN, CNP, CWON, FACCWS
Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a page dedicated to preparing for a zombie apocalypse?
When I was first asked to write something for this blog, I knew I did not want to do the “same old same old” wound care topic for my first post. Therefore, I set out to find something out of the box that people would enjoy reading. When I started researching topics, I kept going back to doing something in the spirit of Halloween; fall, including Halloween, is my favorite season. The leaves changing, the pumpkin spice everything, and of course, all the scary fun that Halloween embodies. I love reading stories on the history behind the Salem witch trials. I even went to a psychic once. But the recurring theme that kept coming up in my search was that of a zombie apocalypse. The aforementioned CDC preparedness recommendations for a zombie apocalypse include having first aid kits and bandaging supplies because although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat any cuts or scraps you obtain from running from them.
Origins of Zombies
We all know the spread of a zombie virus can occur from a cough, a bite, and, most recently, a bad oyster, which turns to a pandemic. A zombie outbreak of sorts. Many of us laugh and use our logical side, thinking, “how could this ever happen,” right?
This brings us to the point of where do zombies come from, and do they ALL love eating brains? The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins.1 Although the meaning has changed, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. An example of non-brain-eating zombies possessed by voodoo magic can be seen in Wes Cravens’ “The Serpent and the Rainbow,” where voodoo powder is used to transform the “participant.” One minute you are getting powder blown in your face, next minute you are buried alive, zombified!
Talk about a rough Monday!
Some theories suggest the zombie state can simply be secondary to the areas of the brain that the virus infects. Dr. Steven Schlozman, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has created the following theory:2
Zombie Stagger: The cerebellum and basal ganglia, the areas of the brain that regulate balance and fluid motion, are affected, which leads zombies to stagger so ungracefully toward prey.
Zombie Appetite: The brain’s ventromedial hypothalamus is the area affected; this leads to an insatiable appetite.
Zombie Rage: The amygdala or brain’s emotional center is the area affected, which results in hyperaggression.
Zombie Stupidity: This is secondary to the frontal lobe’s being infected by the virus. This is the area of the brain related to problem solving, planning, and reason. Hence it is why zombies cannot even figure out how to open the farmhouse door to get their prey.
How Being a Wound Care Specialist Can Prepare You for the Apocalypse
Now that we know the background of how the zombie virus physiologically attacks the brain, the question is: if this did happen, would you survive? Well, if you are a wound specialist, you may be one step ahead of the rest of civilization.
How does being a wound care specialist come into play? Let’s look at the facts.
1. We have connections to some pretty amazing resources:
- Dressing supplies: We have access to top-of-the-line bandaging materials because, as in any disaster, people are not presenting with small cuts. We are talking about large, gaping wounds. Having an endless supply of bandaging materials would definitely put the wound care specialist in a position of power within the refugee camp.
- Medications: I could go into depth here from medications ranging from antibiotics and antivirals to fight off infection (because it is all fun and games until you are infected with the zombie virus and taking a bite out of your travel companion) to pain medications and probably some Ativan to keep everyone calm.
2. Vaccinations: These can come in handy because nobody’s got time for tetanus when you are trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.
3. We can handle many situations that make the rest of the population a bit squeamish. Not everybody has the stomach to deal with bodily fluids, infections, and emotional people all at once. We deal with necrotic, smelly wounds all day. A zombie with intestines hanging out has nothing on a patient who has wet gangrene. There is also always the chance of seeing maggots on the mangled limbs of the zombies, but as wound care specialists, we sometimes deliberately put maggots on people!
4. We have access to silver products that—according to some sources—work for killing zombies as well—and here we thought they were just for killing werewolves and Pseudomonas.
5. We are really good at performing assessments. One of the first rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse is to assess the situation and come up with a plan.
6. We are well versed in the application of personal protective equipment and the use of antibacterial soap.
Being a wound care specialist can put you miles ahead of the “locals” when it comes to surviving a zombie apocalypse by putting your skills to work. From quickly debriding a fresh bite to remove the poison (kind of like a snakebite) to utilizing the latest topical wound dressing to stop the spread of the disease. Of course, if all of these things fail, I would suggest putting your wrapping skills to work and turn the zombie into a mummy; at least then all of their organs would be contained. On the other hand, you could always bust out into the Thriller dance; this may distract them from eating your brains—it worked for Michael!
Based on these facts, remember if ever faced with the outbreak of a zombie virus, stay calm. You are a wound specialist and are equipped to handle the situation.
1. Kahn A. Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2011.
2. Sclozman S. What zombies can teach us about braaain science. PBS NewsHour. October 29, 2010.
About the Author
Emily Greenstein, APRN, CNP, CWON, FACCWS is a Certified Nurse Practitioner at Sanford Health in Fargo, ND. She received her BSN from Jamestown College and her MSN from Maryville University. She is certified as an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She has been certified in wound and ostomy care through the WOCNCB for the past 8 years. At Sanford she oversees the outpatient wound care program, serves as chair for the SVAT committee and is involved in many different research projects. She is an active member of the AAWC and currently serves as co-chair for the Research Task Force and Membership Committee. She is also a working member of the AAWC International Consolidated Diabetic Ulcer Guidelines Task Force. She has been involved with other wound organizations and currently serves as the Professional Practice Chair for the North Central Region Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Society. Emily has served as an expert reviewer for the WOCN Society and the Journal for WOCN. Her main career focus is on the advancement of wound care through evidence-based research.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.