Zombies rise up to deliver safety message
By Jim Hynes
Meet Mangle, with her broken neck and long hair tangled with nuts and bolts, all because she didn’t tie it back before working on some machinery. Then there’s Archie, the permanently stooped-over former janitor who didn’t observe proper mopping techniques, and Patch, the partially blind ex-lab technician who couldn’t be bothered to wear safety goggles when working with chemicals.
These undead McGill staff members are just some of the dozen or so Safety Zombies you might meet at Zombie Movie Night, which helps kick off the University’s annual Safety Week on Monday, Sept. 12, with a screening of the 2009 comedy Zombieland.
Prior to the screening, which will take place in James Square (just inside the Milton Gates), the gruesome Safety Zombies and their various causes of death will be presented to the audience by Wayne Wood, Associate Director, University Safety, in the office of Environmental Health and Safety, as part of a presentation on workplace safety.
From Sept. 12-16, Safety Week will offer presentations and other events to educate the McGill community about the safety services and procedures available at the University. This year’s theme is “Sustainable Prevention,” driving home the message that safety measures should be robust and long-lasting, that dangers must be corrected at the source, and that safety is a value to be shared by the entire community.
The concept of using a zombie apocalypse to increase awareness of emergency planning is one borrowed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The idea is that the preparation for a possible zombie attack is not all that different than preparing for other types of emergencies.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Zombie movies, says Bruce Lapointe, the Emergency Measures Officer, Emergency measures and Fire Prevention, who will serve as Head Zombie, complete with a new, professionally made zombie costume, throughout Safety Week. “And I think the zombie apocalypse idea is a great fit for us. I’m the first to admit that Emergency Preparedness is not the trendiest thing for students or for the general population, so this is a fun way of getting people’s attention.
“As an emergency measures professional, I always have to put things in the ‘worst-case scenario’ perspective in order to make sure that all angles are covered and that emergencies can be mitigated effectively. And an invasion of the undead and the subsequent fall of civilization are about as worst-case scenario as you can get. Besides, zombie literature and movies all touch on the ability of individuals to plan, prepare, practice and survive, which are the basics of emergency preparedness and community resiliency.
“But aside from all that, it’s just plain cool.”
Safety Week officially begins on the Monday afternoon with an open house hosted by the Hazardous Waste Management team. A full slate of activities, including a presentation on safety in agriculture, will take place on the Macdonald Campus on Tuesday. Other Safety Week events include presentations on office ergonomics, crime prevention, dealing with hazardous chemicals, rape aggression defence, and yes, Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse, where you can learn how to defend yourself against rampaging armies of the undead. Safety Week participants can also learn how to use a fire extinguisher in a special simulator, have their bicycles and laptops protected against theft, and attend a defibrillator demonstration. Things wrap up on Friday with closing remarks and an awards ceremony, followed by a barbecue sponsored by Security Services.
For more information about Safety Week and to see its complete schedule of activities, visit www.mcgill.ca/safety/safety_week/.