PITTSBURGH—A zombie-preparedness study, commissioned by Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy and released Monday, indicates that the city could easily succumb to a devastating zombie attack. Insufficient emergency-management-personnel training and poorly conceived undead-defense measures have left the city at great risk for all-out destruction at the hands of the living dead, according to the Zombie Preparedness Institute.
"When it comes to defending ourselves against an army of reanimated human corpses, the officials in charge have fallen asleep at the wheel," Murphy said. "Who's in charge of sweep-and-burn missions to clear out infected areas? Who's going to guard the cemeteries at night? If zombies were to arrive in the city tomorrow, we'd all be roaming the earth in search of human brains by Friday."
Government-conducted zombie-attack scenarios described on the State Department's website indicate that a successful, citywide zombie takeover would take 10 days, but according to ZPI statistician Dr. Milton Cornelius, the government's models fail to incorporate such factors as the zombies' rudimentary reasoning skills and basic tool use.
"Today's zombies quickly learn to open doors, break windows, and stage ambushes," Cornelius said. "In one 1985 incident in Louisville, a band of zombies was able to lure four paramedics and countless law-enforcement officials to their deaths by commandeering an ambulance radio and calling for backup."
ZPI researchers noted that tens of thousands of Pittsburgh citizens live in close proximity to a cemetery. This fact, coupled with abnormally high space-radiation levels in eastern Pennsylvania and ongoing traffic issues in the East Hills and Larimer areas, led Cornelius to declare the likelihood of a successful evacuation as "slight to impossible."
"The designated evacuation routes would be hopelessly clogged, leaving many no choice but to escape by foot," Cornelius said. "Add a single lurching zombie into that easily panicked crowd and you've got a nightmare scenario."
Cornelius' model shows that after the ensuing stampede, "the zombie could pick and choose his victims," and predicts the creation of hundreds of new undead "in a single half-hour feeding frenzy."
Pittsburgh's structural defenses are particularly inadequate. The city's emergency safe houses, established by a city ordinance in the early '70s, lack even the most basic fortifications for zombie invasion.
"Under the ordinance, wooden tool sheds and rusty station wagons are classified as adequate shelter," Cornelius said. "But once dozens of zombies hungering for living flesh begin pounding on the walls and driving their half-decomposed fists through the windows, sheds and cars quickly give way."
Federal Undead Management Agency spokesperson Dr. Sheena Aurora downplayed the ZPI report, arguing that zombies move slowly and can be easily overpowered. Aurora advised citizens to look over their shoulders frequently, adding that a large shopping mall can serve as a "long-term, even fun" refuge from zombies.
Such assertions alarm zombiologist Olivier Baptiste, who calls FUMA's information "hopelessly outdated."
"Dr. Aurora's claims are based on decades-old zombie models," Baptiste said. "Widely released evidence from recent years clearly shows that zombies can run just as fast, if not faster, than a living human."
Added Baptiste: "That FUMA trains its field agents to shoot zombies in the torso, rather than the head, demonstrates just how out of touch the government is."
Evans City, PA Police Chief Gino Fulci said zombie preparedness comes down to training on the local level.
"Children need to be taught from preschool that they might have to put a bullet between the eyes of their own undead mother," Fulci said. "'Destroy The Brain' banners should be hung above the entrances of schools, churches, and town halls everywhere."
Cornelius recommends that Pittsburgh residents prepare a "go-bag" containing a Glock 17 pistol and 50 rounds of ammunition. If leaving the house is not an option, Cornelius advises residents to barricade all first-story doors and windows, and have at least one method of suicide prepared, should zombies successfully breach the home.