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Floods? Been there. Wildfires? Done that. Power outages? Please. Los Alamos has had its share of all these disaster and hardship events, but there’s one thing it hasn’t prepared for — a zombie apocalypse.
Fortunately, the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos will be addressing this pressing issue all next week through a program called “The Art and Science of Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse.”
The program is a part of the university’s summer Teens College, which is geared to students in grades seven through 10.
This is the first time that associate English professor Mickey Marsee and community education advisor Eileen Gallegos put a program like this together. Despite it being the first time, the program was an initial success, as 77 students signed up for the program. Throughout the week, students will be introduced to forensics, mind control, emergency preparedness, health and first aid. They will also learn about wilderness survival, firemaking and cyber security. They will also learn how to apply “zombie makeup” and be introduced to the exciting world of video game design.
“The idea of a zombie apocalypse has become more mainstream and popular over the years, and I thought this would be a fun way of learning some interesting skills and introducing them to a variety of disciplines,” she said.
The program pulls experts from across the community. The health aspect of the program will be using experts from New Mexico Department of Health, for example. Dante Halleck, the department's emergency preparedness specialist for the northeast region, will educate the teens on the emergency preparedness and disease detection on Monday, along with health official Kelly Gallagher.
“It will be great to get the younger people to start thinking about what would happen if the power went out, making them aware of the response mechanisms that are in place in the community in case of a natural disaster,” Hallek said.
Before the week is out, students will know how to start a fire from scratch, build a shelter as well as what local plants are edible, and what ones are good for medicinal purposes.
Tongue-in-cheekiness aside, the program has its roots in Los Alamos’ past history with natural disasters, such as the Las Conchas and Cerro Grande fires.
“This area knows what it’s like to face a natural disaster, and at least one of them has happened within the awareness of these students,” Marsee said. “I think, as a town, emergency awareness is something we’re very aware of and that we practice. This is our way of peaking their interest in some of these areas.”