A New Normal

A new normal.
Improve your chances of restarting bands in the fall by preparing tighter health and safety procedures now.

As public health officials cue the recovery phase of the pandemic following more than a month of stay-at-home orders, fall marching groups have begun recruitment and are planning for band camps. While drum corps has been canceled for the summer, all hope to return to some sense of normalcy in August or September.

Continue to navigate uncertainties to keep your members and staff as safe as possible.

Consult with Experts

Frequently check official information from your local, state, and federal government about public safety protocols. Recommendations and official policies may differ based on your location.

Also consider consulting with medical professional who you may have on staff or on your volunteer roster.

Based on gathered information, your group should conduct a risk assessment and make any necessary adjustments to your procedures as well as determine any show-stopping scenarios.

Comply with the policies or procedures of your organization while heeding the advice of experts.

Stay Informed

Effective communication will keep everyone in step as they return to the marching activity. Develop a crisis communication plan that establishes checklists for sharing changes and emergency information.

• Post real-time updates on your organization’s official website or social media platforms.
• Use a reliable messaging/notification service to keep members, families, and fans informed.
• Charge communication devices (cell phones, tablets, two-way radios) and keep spare batteries or portable charging units handy.
• Delegate a single point of contact for communications, especially when addressing the news media or notifying family members of an incident.
• Maintain a contact database that is secure yet quickly accessible.
• Designate an emergency meeting place upon arriving at any location.

Remember the Basics

Do you eat, sleep, and breathe your band or corps? Chances are, you are exposed to several crowds of people and visit countless highly trafficked public facilities over the course of the typical season.

While you might expect this season to be out of the ordinary, frequent hand washing and disinfection of surfaces continue to be effective methods to prevent the spread of illness between people. You may need to find an effective way to wash or disinfect hands prior to eating at practices and performances and think of safer ways for serving coordinated meals.

Cover your sneeze or cough. Stay home when you’re sick.

Just like the most challenging aspects of your performance, perfect the basics!

Monitor Health

“Sick Call” is sounded by a bugler in the U.S. military to assemble personnel in need of medical attention or continued evaluation by a healthcare provider. Does your organization have clear policies to report and address injuries and illnesses? Be sure to document all reports and actions that were taken, including parent/guardian consent and contact if applicable.

Before a sick (or injured) member returns to the field, implement a return-to-rehearsal procedure that reviews any restrictions prescribed by a healthcare provider and obtains parent/guardian consent if applicable.

Marching forward into the weeks, months, and seasons ahead, organizations have opportunities to become more resilient in the future by assessing risks and monitoring health and safety at all times.

Be healthy, be safe, and #MarchOn!

About author

Justin Eberly

Justin Eberly is a volunteer firefighter and active emergency medical technician in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He presents emergency services educational and training programs locally and nationally. Eberly has played trumpet for 15 years, previously performing with Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and Shippensburg (Pennsylvania) University. He also serves as a marching band instructor.

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