My husband loves zombies- he's actually been reading the comics the show is based on for years. Me, yeah, not so much. The whole idea of a post-apocalyptic world really, really upsets me. Not just zombies- natural disasters, terrorism, disease...yeah. I want to throw up thinking about it. I can't even really verbalize what it is. I think a big part of it is the inhumanity that comes with living in a lawless world and how much it challenges the things I want to believe about the human race- I think it's mostly the idea that I would have to become that in order to stay alive.
We did this stupid computer module when I took community health to help us learn about bio-terror and nuclear warfare. It's probably the most vivid memory I have of nursing school, because it bothered me greatly. It upsets me to think about it even more now that I work in ER. In the scenario they gave us, you have to triage patients that are victims of a nuclear blast using the disaster triage system. In the everyday world, we use a system where the sickest patients are seen first, and the healthier patients have to wait. Where I work, we assign them a number based on acuity- those who are actively dying or who are very at risk get a level 1- it goes down in acuity to level 5. Disaster triage works by color- red, yellow, and green from worst acuity down. But in disaster triage, the patients who would be a 1 or sometimes even a 2 at hood hospital would get a black tag. You even physically place a tag or write on the patients in these scenarios. In most situations, this would pretty much mean you just won't do CPR, but in this particular module you had patients with obvious radiation poisoning who you could do nothing for, but they were still talking to you. Cute little old people, in fact, who were crying and asking what was wrong, but as the module points out, you don't have time to explain or hold their hand or give them a hug, because you have a waiting room full of hundreds of other people you might be able to save- you just put a black tag on them and walk away. I was in tears. Like, lots of tears.
All these situations also face you with the inherent question- would you stick around your job or come in to help, or would you get the hell out of there? Most of these scenarios put you at a great risk as a nurse, be it exposure to radiation or disease or violence from the inevitable chaos. It would almost certainly mean not knowing what has happened to your loved ones. This is a question I pose a lot to people over beers, and almost everyone I've asked say they'd try and get out alive. I can't say what I'd do for sure, but I would like to think I'd stay. Partially because I feel it's the right thing to do, but I'd be lying if a big part of it wasn't the fact that I would probably rather die than try to fight to stay alive in a world like that. I think I might be at peace with the possibility of risking or giving my life to do the right thing. Even in doing the right thing and getting out alive, I know I would have to go against every principle that's natural for me as a nurse. The experience would probably scar me for life, but I hope I would have the courage to stay.
Unless it's zombies. Then I'm getting the hell out of there, cause I'm not trying to get eaten by undead. But I'm curious, internets- what do you think you'd do?