Why CERT Doesn’t Quite Work for the Zombie Apocalypse

CERT is awesome, but it’s not going to work during the Zombie Apocalypse. Because CERT is all about search and rescue, and search and rescue is just going to spread the contamination.

My CERT class

To be fair, there are lots of skills that CERT teaches that will be invaluable come the day:

  • How to organize and create infrastructure
  • How to assess damage levels of buildings
  • How to handle fires
  • How to do triage
  • How to work in a team efficiently
  • How to communicate quickly
  • How to treat a variety of injuries (broke bones, bleeding, shock, burns)
  • How to prepare for a disaster

They also teach you a lot about a variety of disasters that could happen: earthquake, fire, flood, biological & chemical disasters/warfare. Because, after all, just because the Zombie Apocalypse is going on doesn’t mean there won’t be earthquakes and fires and such.

One of the most useful sections is actually the one about applying all your skills in the face of a biological disaster. It goes into dealing with contamination and limiting the spread of infection.

And this is what you have to keep in mind when it comes to search and rescue. In the Zombie Apocalypse, search and rescue is going to make you vulnerable and get you killed. You don’t want to bring back injured people to your safe zone, because some of those people are going to be contaminated. You have to leave them where they are. Which sucks. But. Otherwise, you spread the infection.

Which brings me to one of the absolutely key elements here that CERT gets right: Don’t be a hero. Here, let me repeat that:

Don’t be a hero.

For reals, folks. Have you ever watched Alien? You know that scene where the ground team is freaking out and trying to get their injured guy on board? And Ripley (wise, wise Ripley) says no, we’ve got to do decontamination and be careful here? And the captain (heroic, doomed captain) overrules her and brings the guy back on board without following procedures? And thereby seals their fates, dooming them all (aside from Ripley) to painful death? Yeah. Don’t be that guy.

Don’t go running off into dangerous buildings alone. Don’t heroically decide to risk yourself to save a kitten. Because, while it plays great in movies, particularly for our individualist focused culture, it’s going to get you killed. And it’s going to get me killed, too. And you know, if you want to make yourself a Darwin Award winner, that’s fine. But you don’t get to take me down with you.

The CERT motto is:

“To do the most good for the greatest number of people in the least time possible.”

And that means you keep yourself alive and in good shape. Because that means you can keep rescuing people. Instead of getting yourself killed along with the kitten when the burning building collapses, you’ll be able to save a dozen other people.  It’s like Spock says at the end of Star Trek II, “the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few.” Don’t disappoint Spock.

Stickshifts and Motorcycles

I was really tempted to call this post Stickshifts and Safety Belts, but that doesn’t actually work.

I drive an automatic. Most people in the US do. It’s the easy option. But, come the Day of Apocalypse (DoA – very appropriate, no?) you may need to know how to drive something else. Just imagine:

You’re running from a horde of zombies. Up ahead you see a car. Maybe the door is unlocked. Maybe you break the window to get in. Doesn’t matter. You get in the car thinking, oh, thank god, I can get out of here. And then you realize – it’s a stickshift. Shit. What do you do now? You kinda vaguely remember that one time you tried to drive stick and you stalled out the car in the middle of an intersection and your cousin, who was teaching you, laughed. Not promising.

Meanwhile, the zombie horde has caught up. They’re pounding on the car. If you didn’t break the window, well, they’re about to. You could get out. You could flee, and potentially mow a bunch of them down, except you don’t know how to drive the car. As the first one lays a clammy hand on you, you find yourself wishing you’d punched that cousin in the face and then gotten a better teacher to show you how to actually drive stick.

I do not want to be that person. Which means I’d better get someone to teach me stick shift. Someone other than Jason, since I’m specifically excluded from his insurance policy (thanks awfully, AAA). He’s also specifically excluded by my policy (thanks again, AAA).

Then, motorcycles. Not actually good defensive vehicles. Or good offensive vehicles. But, when you need to move fast and you’ve got your legs or a motorcycle… motorcycle. Those puppies are fast and maneuverable. They can go around turns and through small blocked areas that cars cannot. Admittedly, you’re road sushi as soon as you stop or get thrown anywhere near a zombie.

In a Mad Max world, you drive what you can get.

So. Time to learn to drive stick. But motorcycles… I’m not so sure about motorcycles. They kinda freak me out.

(In the process of writing this I realized there’s another skill you’ll need – hotwiring cars. Somehow, I suspect it’s gonna be harder for me to find a teacher for that one.)

Gone Shooting

Did you know shooting ranges can provide you with zombie targets? I did not, though it seems obvious in retrospect.

Eight of us went shooting, and I wasn’t even the least experienced person! That was awesome.

We decided to go for an indoor range since it was cold out and we were worried about rain. It didn’t rain. And, ironically, the indoor range was far colder. Lucky for me that I had my typing gloves in my bag. Of course, it is good practice for fleeing to the frozen north.

I’d like to claim that all those shots on the zombie are mine, but they aren’t. I did land several, though.

Practice with firearms is clearly going to be a big deal. Even more so than, in, say, your standard post apocalyptic Mad Max style society where all you have to worry about are other people.

The threat of a gun would be sufficient to stop some folks, a flesh wound would be sufficient to stop others, and still others could be taken out via shots to key parts of the body. Even with the kind of mutated monsters you might be dealing with in a nuclear disaster style apocalypse, you can hit them in key areas to immobilize them.  But with a zombie, you always have to hit the head.

Which brings us to the key lesson learned that day:

Get a shotgun.