Episode 359: Street Fighting

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Helpful Bystanders

One little trope I always love in zombie stories is when the heroes are off, doing their hero stuff while there are a bunch of useless onlookers just standing off to the side. The hero is taking all kinds of risks to the betterment of the group, but for some reason no one is really willing to jump in and help. Now, they might have perfectly good reasons for this (perhaps they’re keeping the children back from the frey?), but more often then not their either petrified with fear or just so swept up in whats going on that getting involved doesn’t even occur to them.

My favorite example of this comes from Shaun of the Dead, when David and Ed stand by watching as Shaun, Liz, and Diane work to save Shaun’s mum from the neighborhood zombie. That safety in numbers thing? Well, your mileage may vary.

About this Episode:

I really like this little bedroom I built, so I’m trying to squeeze a bit more of it into the background of my shots. The walls are all built separately so that I can take them down to allow for different camera angles.

Other News:

This Thursday is Independence Day here in the US. As a result, I’m going to be taking Thursday and Friday off. I know that sucks, but I could really use the break. I’m going to be using part of that time putting together something for the site too, so that counts as work, right?

Discussion Question: Amputation and Zombie Bites?

This one came up again in the comments last week: can quickly amputating a limb that has been bitten save a person from succumbing to a zombie bite? How quickly after the bite does the limb need to be amputated? How close can the bite be to the trunk of the body for this method to still be effective?

53 thoughts on “Episode 359: Street Fighting”

  1. one of the best examples of that is in the walking dead when hershel gets bit and rick cuts off his leg

    • You confused me there for a second, I started thinking about the comic instead of the TV show.

      • I did the same thing, Phantom.

    • Yes indeed; that’s the go-to example.

  2. I’ll have to say, I’d rather shoot the person bitten than cut off a limb. What if it kills them because of blood loss? What if it doesn’t help, and prolonged the infection from turning them? What if the cut itself gets infected? I’d like to think a nurse or someone with enough medical experience would need to do the job so that it is less… hell, I don’t know…. hell-ish? As for how close, maybe an inch or two? I’m no doctor or have any medical experience so maybe we could learn something from Bo on this one.

    • the only thing your amputee can do is not scream screaming can attract zombies and calming down can ease bleeding

      • Have them bite down on a stick?

    • Absent anesthesia, I really don’t know how you could help someone. The whole idea is horrific.

  3. never fight back, i just learned that from watching the 1980’s IT. If you fight back and struggle, well… your just putting on a show for your killer. Fight back when theres not a sawned-off aginst your head and your killer isn’t tweeting everybody about it.

    • if the person who was bit cant feel his wound the zombie mustve bit the nerve if that happens it would be a good idea just to put him down because if its that deep the virus is already halfway to his brain

      • As far as I know a virus doesn’t travel like that. It could travel alongside a nerve but then it would end up in the spinal cord and stay there (like herpes) because it can’t cross the synapses. Viruses do most of their traveling by blood… (but I could be wrong of course)

        BTW… do you people think that Zombification comes through a virus, bacteria, prions, or something completely different

        • That’s beyond my level of knowledge right there.

        • well it all depends on the zombie if its a wwz,28 days later,or the crossed zombie its just mere seconds before he turns. on the other hand if its a left 4 dead,zombieland,and romero zombie it could take hours for a patient to get infected.

        • I guess everyone’s story is a bit different, you also forgot Supernatural or Biblical (end days). The biggest issue with Zeds is no origins, hardly ever. I mean we are talking reanimated dead tissue, I’ve never heard of a virus to do that but then again…
          If I knew what kind of “infection” some one had I might attempt an amputation. Now if it was someone close to me, (Wife, Kids) it wouldn’t matter I would try almost anything. This would most likely be my downfall as well.

        • When it comes to infection, I’ve always liked when it takes a while for the infection to actually show. I think it makes things more plausible. Someone could be infected and travel without showing any signs.

      • Yeah, I think that’s probably a really bad sign.

    • I don’t know about not fighting back. That’s just not my style.

  4. So the new man of the house is Barb. According to Caveman rules she is now the one that now owns everyone in the house.

    • Hah!

  5. More please i beg you

    • I’m going as fast as I can.

  6. I think it all depends on what kind of zombies we’re dealing with; what causes reanimation, how fast it can fully affect a person, methods of transmission, etc.
    If we’re talking about the original Night of the Living Dead, it was space radiation which means amputation would have been pretty pointless since in that world everyone became zombies regardless of how they died – amputating an affected limb would only serve to handicap the eventual zombie.
    On almost the complete end of the spectrum is the Rage zombies from 28 Days Later, where amputation is equally pointless given how quickly the virus spreads upon contact with bodily fluids.
    Somewhere in the middle are most other zombie stories, where the infection spreads far more slowly but most people aren’t infected until direct exposure to a carrier. In those cases, where you usually have a few hours before full systemic infection, amputation can save a victim.
    Then you have the less traditional stories like The Walking Dead or the webcomic The Zombie Hunters where living people can be infected with a “dormant” strain of the virus that doesn’t activate until the person dies or is exposed to active virus through a bite. Zombie Hunters takes this concept a little further by having only a part of the surviving population be carriers of the dormant virus while others are completely virus free, which creates an interesting sociopolitical dynamic where the carriers are seen as a lower caste and are the ones who are sent out to the zombie-infested wastelands to gather supplies, test equipment, etc.

    • Awesome write-up here, Darg.

      I think people just dormantly infected is a really cool idea, but I don’t know how well that mixes with amputation as an infection barrier.

    • Ever notice (28 days) the infection is intelligent? It never attacks anyone that is infected, very strange (BAD WRITING)

  7. I’m thinking that you would treat it like a venomous snake bite. If its on an extremitie then applying a tourniquet and keeping that extremetie below the level of the victims heart would slow the spread of the pathogen. A tourniquet would also help control blood loss. Still, without trained medical personnel I have no idea how you would close off the blood vessels or properly treat the wound.

    • This seems pretty reasonable to me.

  8. I like curse zombies. You know, black magic. “When there’s no more room in Hell the dead will walk the earth.”

    Honestly, I probably wouldn’t think to amputate; and I carry less than half of the equipment I would need for a clean amputation. In fact, aside from tourniquets and a couple of suture kits, I am bare in that department. Who carries a bone saw around with them? Likely not even surgeons, outside of an OR setting.

    Between the blood loss, the risk of infecting the wound, and the person doing the operating, I would not risk it. If you remove the limb and your patient dies of infection of blood loss you have on mad, freshly-turned and one-armed zombie, and a lot less resources.

    Better to drag them into the back yard and yup, you guessed it, pickaxe to the head.

    • This is kind of my thinking too. An amputation is probably a lot bigger deal then people might think.

      • Most folks can’t even skin a rabbit, or sharpen a pocketknife, or even bait a hook.

        You expect them to remove an appendage with surgical precision?

        I expect it would be worse than the Spanish Inquisition.

        • Still, there ARE people out there who have done emergency amputations and even self-amputations without any significant medical training and the amputee has survived. (granted that was with professional follow up care) And amputations were fairly common for soldiers in the 18th and 19th centuries with amzing primative medical technology. Im not saying its a great alternative, but next to certain death, its worth a shot.

        • Not one hundred percent true. Yes, emergency amputations are possible. However, the provider is going to have to assess the possibility of death versus the resources involved. How many rolls of Kerlix and how many suture kits will it take to treat the amputation versus how many are there in sum?

          Your medical guy might flat-out not have the resources to attempt an amputation. Sure, Aron Ralston amputated his own arm with a Leatherma; but he still required surgery afterword to save his life.

          These are careful considerations, to be sure.

    • Yeah, Ted’s wife isn’t really being much help here. Remaining non-combatant due to being a girl isn’t a good excuse normally, and here it’s completely irrelevant since Barb is the one actually getting shit done.

      I’ve commented before, it depends on what you view the mechanism of the zombie bite being. If it’s blood-borne, then I think you have less than a minute to cut off circulation before it’s distributed around the body (We don’t really have venomous animals here though, so don’t really cover that kink of thing in our first aid).

      However, there are other things that spread much more slowly, I believe I mentioned gangrene previously as an example of a much slower spreading ailment. In that case, amputation probably would work, although good luck performing it under most circumstances. I don’t know how your average hacksaw would perform against bone, for example, when you need to get through quickly. A heavy axe would be fast, if you happen to be carrying one (for some reason), but wouldn’t that splinter rather than cut cleanly? In either case, I doubt many of us would have a bucket of pitch handy to prevent our poor limb donor from bleeding out.

      Basically, amputation may or may not work academically, but it likely will be academic, due to the problems with actually performing said amputation.

      • …Huh. That… wasn’t supposed to be a reply…

        • And unfortunately, I can’t fix those. It’s a total pain.

  9. Go Nurse Ratched!

    • Hell yes!

  10. i’m trying to still guess what that top thing means “Love death and zombies but whats that love part about? was that just advertisment?

    • Sam loves his wife, Stewart has a thing for Cheryl. There’s some love going on.

      • speaking of sam ,stewart and cherylwhen are they gonna make a reappearence in the comic

        • Absolutely. We cycle between our stories. Next up is Murphy & Co.

      • heh, i knew that the 16 year old liked the person 4 years older then him. Stewart, you dog. Of course they’re both wearing red, maybe Shannon has a thing for the karate guy in Behing the Scenes

        • Who wouldn’t have a thing for the karate guy?

  11. For all of you who are using 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later as an example of zombies, they are not actually real zombies as we know them, because the true definition of a zombie is it must be dead and then reanimate, which in both movies they are just infected by the virus and not dead, which actually means there could be a cure for them, unlike true zombies which are dead and therefore cannot be cured because that would essentially be bringing a rotted corpse back to life, which is impossible because at this time from the amount of stuff they do because they lack the feeling of pain would have killed them even if they hadn’t been dead in the first place.

    • i think that zombies aren’t slow pushover jerks who jack off in dark places where you ALWAYS find them off guard. Nope, zombies are like speed walkers in my opinion, they do have hunting skills, like the flop, or playing dead, until a moron walks between them and a zombie bites their leg. But they’re not like the zombies in world war Z.

      • Yes but I was referring to the use of the word “zombie” to describe the infected of the 28 Days Later movie series. It does not fit the basic description of a zombie, which are:
        1. It must be dead before reanimation
        2. It must be reanimated by some form of virus/radiation/etc.
        3. It must not be able to experience pain.
        4. It hungers for human flesh (Because if they favored brains, then they are stopping the spread of the virus, because if a zombie is killed by destroying the brain, then the victim would not have a brain to be destroyed therefore it wouldn’t make sense)
        5. It must be only able to be killed by destroying the brain in any form or fashion.

        And I think that’s about it. Also, another example of the 28 Days Later infected not being true zombies is they can be killed by destroying the heart, which would not affect a zombie, and they will not get back up or reanimate.

        • I think that’s altogether too narrow a view. If you want get technical, zombies should only be victims of witch doctors.

        • @Dave True, but on the other hand, my description fits the basic characteristics of popular media zombie, i.e. Romero, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, etc., which is the form of zombie most of the world is familiar with when they think of zombies, excluding those that do believe in Voodoo and Witch Doctors, etc.

  12. To have to deal with the pain of not having an arm? Or a leg? Then to be a weight on those around me in a very trying time? I’d prefer my friends to put one through my head or allow me to do so for myself. I fear death, I fear it greatly but I fear even worse being a difficulty to both myself and others around me. I’ve taken care of too many people to feel right about being taken care of.

    • Amputation should only be used in bad story telling to save cool characters. . ?

      • Hah!

    • I think I’d rather have a disability than be dead.

      • Ditto

  13. Bystanders never ever help do they? I do like that bedroom Dave!