Zombie outbreak hits Austin!
Teams work to solve the mystery of the undead virus.
Day 1 of SHM Converge 2023 hadn’t even reached its conclusion when a zombie outbreak struck the city of Austin. Fortunately, special teams were on hand and had the crisis under control before it could get any worse.
The “outbreak” was part of Monday’s interactive session, “Survive! The POCUS Apocalypse,” which was aimed at highlighting the uses of Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) in the field.
Zombie Task Force “General” Charlie LoPresti, MD, SFHM, associate professor at Case Western University, briefed the teams ahead of their mission.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” Dr. LoPresti said. “The situation is pretty dire.”
Dr. LoPresti said the situation emerged March 1 when Patient Zero presented at Austin Memorial Medical Center with abdominal pain.
“The ED stated I have no idea what’s causing this but the CT [scan for pulmonary embolism] was negative,” said Dr. LoPresti, to raucous laughter from the crowd.
Once the briefing on the situation was finished, teams were given a 15-minute crash course on how to use POCUS for abdominal and cardiac scanning before being sent to work. The 10 teams of five were then sent to one of six stations around the room to examine a “victim” with the ultimate goal of learning what was causing the outbreak.
Dr. LoPresti said those victims — the ones who were still alive anyway — were actually volunteers who specialize in POCUS and it wasn’t hard at all to get them to step up.
“We have a close-knit group of people who do POCUS,” he said. “So we asked for volunteers, and everybody was really excited to do it.”
Finding the clues wasn’t always easy. One station required one team member to be blindfolded while the rest of the team guided them on where to move the POCUS. Another station required teams to examine a zombie “head” that had been cut open at the top.
The teams had 12 minutes to work at each station, and once time was up, they were rotated to the next station and the next clue. Each clue formed a different piece of the bigger puzzle, but teams were told not to open them until they had gathered all six. After all teams had visited all the stations, the meeting was reconvened, and teams had five minutes to review their clues and come up with an answer.
That answer turned out to be the rather tongue-in-cheek solution of asking ChatGPT to figure out how to solve the outbreak.
Teams were then rewarded with a special message from the President of the United States, played by none other than actor Jeff Bridges in a special, pre-recorded video appearance. President Bridges revealed via rhyming poem that Austin — and the nation — had been saved thanks to the Zombie Task Force.
“Zombie Task Force,” Bridges said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your heroic efforts in saving all of us from the zombie apocalypse. Thanks to your bravery and ingenuity, the city of Austin is safe once again.”
Dr. LoPresti and his crew, who had conceived of the idea prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, were concerned about how the escape room-inspired session would go over. But judging from the standing ovation they received at the end, they had no reason to worry.
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