Two summers back, a hospital in NYC was looking for volunteers to play victims in a disaster drill of the biological or chemical weapon sort. They wanted to both train hospital personnel and get an idea of how long things took and what parts of the system needed streamlining.
Us volunteers gathered in bathing suits on the sidewalk. We were given cards with basic descriptions of the victims we’d be representing- gender, age, any injuries, ambulatory or non-ambulatory, and attitude (“cooperative,” “belligerent” etc.)
I wanted to try both the ambulatory and non-ambulatory runs, but most of the volunteers only wanted to do ambulatory, so I did non-ambulatory runs twice. They put me on a body board on a stretcher, and wheeled me over to a long tarp tunnel, where water was spraying. People in scary looking hazmat suits scrubbed me with little brushes then rinsed me off, and dressed me in a sterile paper gown and paper booties. Then I went back and did it again.
It felt a little like going through a car wash. I found myself singing “Workin’ at the Carwash” while waiting.
It occurred to me afterwards that the structure was very much like a hoard LARP, and the cards with the victim descriptions were just like the typical short character sheets horde characters get.
Of course, no one there thought of it as a LARP- we were asked to volunteer for a drill, not a role-playing exercise. Though I definitely think there are people out there who would consider this a LARP (whether or not the hospital knew it was running one!) I tend to think of LARPs as strictly for entertainment, but maybe this kind of thing lends credence to the idea that LARP can have more practical purposes, too. Like training and education.