Bounce-back from zombie attack?

October 2, 2018

For many, the word “bounce” doesn’t immediately say zombie apocalypse, but that was exactly the scenario for Sunday’s annual Bounce Day simulation.

It’s a day focused on community resilience in the face of catastrophe or disaster. This year’s drill simulated a public emergency of the kind usually only found in science fiction: a zombie outbreak.

“We wanted to focus on resiliency,” said Dr. Robin Molella, medical director for Bounce Day. “We wanted people to focus on what the assets they have in their community are that allow them to recover.

“Bounce day means we’re all focused on bouncing back. Among those assets, yes, are technical skills — that’s part of resiliency ... but among them are the friendships and relationships that get built.”

That’s important because, as Molella said, about 80 percent of people in a disaster are rescued by friends or neighbors.

Held at the Gamehaven Reservation southeast of Rochester, more than 200 people came out to participate.

Groups from around Olmsted County and the surrounding region participated in what has become an annual event. Participants included ham radio enthusiasts, high school students, medical students from Mayo and nursing students from a number of programs.

“We focus on teaching people as much as we can teach them with the rules being: you are here to make whatever mistakes, ask whatever questions,” Molella said. “It’s about learning new skills and trying new things without any kind of judgment.”

For Kate Gebczyk, a student in the nurse practitioner residency program at Mayo, the simulations gave her a glimpse of how a real-life situation may feel. Even so, Gebczyk said she hopes she won’t have to respond to this type of disaster. But if she does, Bounce Day will be “something to draw on, experience-wise.”

Participants ran through the simulation twice, with some changing roles between the two events.

During the afternoon simulation, first-year medical students Adrian Beyde and Harvey Huang were acting as hospital escorts. Standing outside a castle-like structure, the pair were responsible for making sure people who were supposed to go into the hospital made it in and that people didn’t leave without first being discharged.

“You have plan. When you get out here, things change quickly. It’s learning to adjust on the fly,” Beyde, of Montreal, said. He added that this simulation may be useful for his future plans, which include volunteering in developing nations.

While participants including Beyde, Huang and Gebczyk got some hands-on disaster response training, it wouldn’t have been possible without actors to simulate patients. That’s where people like Nick Colaiano and Casey Voigt came in.

Colaiano, who is part of the Words Players Theatre, played the part of an elderly man with dementia. His face covered in white paint with wrinkles added on, the Stewartville resident said it was a fun way to spend the day while helping medical students learn. Colaiano compared participating in Bounce Day to doing a fun run for charity.

“It’s a fun thing to do, but it also helps,” he said.

Sunday was Voigt’s first time participating in the event. Voigt, of Pine Island, said he got involved through a friend. With a painted-on sore on one side of his face and a fake black eye on the other, Voigt played the part of a man found unconscious and suffering from amnesia and a fractured leg. Voigt had also contracted the make-believe, zombie-causing disease, Hemorrhagic Acral Dermatitis and Anesthetic Delirium, or HADAD for short.

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