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Apocalypse to gain safety officer

The UFV Humans versus Zombies club (HvZ) might be fighting the undead, but with recent changes members will be safer than ever.

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By Jessica Wind (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: January 23, 2013

The UFV Humans versus Zombies club (HvZ) might be fighting the undead, but with recent changes members will be safer than ever.

HvZ holds semi-monthly apocalyptic battles in which students split into teams of humans and zombies and fight one another with Nerf guns. Following an incident at their last game at which a student suffered a serious knee injury, the club sought to revisit their safety regulations. HvZ has experienced unexpected and rapid growth, and with close to 100 participants in the club, more formalized safety procedures were necessary.

Blake McGuire, the student in charge of the club’s public relations as well as photojournalist for The  Cascade, spoke to the recent focus on safety.

“We found that our standards regarding registration, safety, and enforcement of rules were not sufficient for this level of participation,” he said, adding that the club is putting a “proactive emphasis on safety.”

At their annual general meeting earlier this month, the club considered several options that would increase the safety for participants without affecting the game.

Electing a qualified volunteer to act as an on-site safety officer was among the decisions. With an occupational first aid level three certificate and three years of experience as a volunteer emergency responder with St. Johns Ambulance, SUS president Shane Potter stepped in to fill the role.

“At the start of every game I’m going to be going over some safety rules, things like that,” Potter said, adding that the majority of injuries incurred during the game are minor scrapes.

“It’s a bunch of people running around with Nerf guns,” Potter explains with a grin. “You throw 60 people on a field with a bunch of Nerf pellets, [and] someone’s going to slip … nothing too crazy.”

Potter, who used to participate in the games, decided that he wanted to take on a more volunteer role and offer his experience as a first aid attendant.

Another amendment to the club’s safety regulations focuses on weather conditions. Games, which formerly ran on a come-rain-or-shine basis, may now be postponed if adverse weather affects the safety of the playing field. As of yet, there haven’t been any weather-related injuries, but Potter attributed the decision as another example of their proactive approach to safety.

“They’re even doing things that are unpopular and going safety first,” Potter says, noting that these decisions won’t necessarily be happily accepted by the players. “[It’s] really unfortunate because people just want to play, but … I agree with them.”

The meeting also covered the creation of participant waivers. The rules, available on their Facebook page, already mention a form must be signed at the beginning of the game, but Potter explained that the university and Student Life will be looking into developing a stronger waiver.

“Right now a lot of clubs are running without … or they have very loose waivers,” Potter explains. “HvZ is really going to spearhead this new waiver … they’re kind of the guinea pig for the new process.”

Potter also adds the measures being taken by HvZ not only follow the requirements set forth by the university, but surpass them.

“We’re just going … to make sure that we’re above and beyond any policy from the university,” Potter concludes.

The new waiver will only permit UFV students and alumni 18 years of age and older to participate in the games. McGuire says limiting the field of eligible players is unfortunate but necessary.

“This was a difficult decision, but we feel it is in the best interest of club members,” he explains, adding that they are certainly open to further suggestions.

Other changes to the safety regulations for the HvZ events involve updating their first aid kit, adding more active moderators per game to more strictly enforce the rules, and requiring players to pre-register.

McGuire finished by saying that it may take some time to get the changes formally adopted into their set of rules, and until the process is complete, they have suspended the planning of new events.

Once the technicalities are worked through, McGuire assures that the players will be back to wielding their Nerf blasters and fending off the zombie apocalypse in no time.

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