Vol. 15: MakeShift: Outbreak

The creator of MacGyver challenges you to use your skills to manage an outbreak on a passenger plane.

By Lee D. Zlotoff

Photos by Jen Siska

+ Downloads & Extras:

The Scenario:

Imagine you’re a world-renowned epidemiologist (yeah, we know it’s a stretch, but just roll with it). You’re on your way back home to Northern California from a pandemics conference in Tokyo, with your 5-year-old child and significant other, cruising over the Pacific at 37,000 feet, and at least six more hours from home — or any airport, for that matter.

You’ve had your second meal and watched the movie, and you’re dozing peacefully in your business class seat when your child wakes you to say he really needs to use the bathroom. So you get up to escort him to the nearest lav, only to run into the longest lines of passengers you’ve ever seen waiting to get to all of the plane’s restrooms, from first class to coach.

An anxious flight attendant tries to push past you carrying numerous loaded barf bags as you stop her to ask what’s going on. Trying to remain calm, she says that, unless you’re a doctor, could you please return to your seat. Well, as fate would have it….

The Challenge:

Clearly there’s an outbreak of unknown origin spreading through the plane, and the sense of panic is starting to build among the passengers and flight crew. Given your credentials, you might be the only person that everyone, including the captain, will listen to. So, putting aside all your years of medical school and practice for the moment — since a snap diagnosis might do as much harm as good — what are you going to do to manage the crisis?

What You Have:

In addition to the airliner’s basic emergency medical supplies, you have whatever any of the passengers might be carrying on a commercial aircraft capable of trans- oceanic flight. And, for the purposes of this challenge, you can assume the flight crew and passengers will follow your instructions without argument, be they very old, very young, or anyone who had significant health issues prior to boarding the plane. So … what now, Doc?


Send a detailed description of your MakeShift solution with sketches and/or photos to makeshift@makezine.com by Nov. 21, 2008. If duplicate solutions are submitted, the winner will be determined by the quality of the explanation and presentation. The most plausible and most creative solutions will each win a MAKE T-shirt and a MAKE Pocket Reference. Think positive and include your shirt size and contact information with your solution. Good luck! For readers’ solutions to previous MakeShift challenges, visit makezine.com/makeshift.

And the next MakeShift challenge could be yours! That’s right, we’re throwing open the doors and offering you the chance to create your own MakeShift to challenge the world. Just submit an original scenario in the familiar format — the challenge, what you have, etc. — with some ideas of how you think it should be solved. The winning scenario will not only be published right here but also earn you a $50 gift certificate for the Maker Shed. The deadline is Nov. 21, 2008, so get out there and start looking for trouble!


Additional content for this article, available only online.

MakeShift 15: Analysis, Commentary, and Winners

by Lee D. Zlotoff; December 17, 2008 | Technorati | del.icio.us

MakeShift 15: Dr. Robert Baker's Most Plausible Winning Entry

Dr. Robert Baker's entry was awarded the MakeShift Master Plausible award for his solution to MakeShift 15.
by Lee D. Zlotoff; December 17, 2008 | Technorati | del.icio.us

MakeShift 15: Nate Gatfield's Most Creative Winning Entry

Nate Gatfield's entry was awarded the MakeShift Master Creative award for his solution to MakeShift 15.
by Lee D. Zlotoff; December 17, 2008 | Technorati | del.icio.us

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