Spotlight Series: Blue Knights Focus on “Safety Above All Else”

DCI 2019 welcomes in a new era of much anticipated initiative focused on heightening the ultimate student experience. In January of the new year, DCI held its annual meeting surrounding a theme of student health, wellness, and safety “across the organization.” Drum corps directors across the board were present to learn, discuss, and gear up for the many changes that #DCI2019 will hold, the largest of which being the NFHS/Varsity University partnership. In light of many recent events, this partnership has been welcomed into the folds with new mandatory trainings and courses through Varsity University. It is designed to teach awareness and compliance to all staff and participating corps from general health and wellness to maltreatment of student participants. This training is required of all DCI participating organizations and their staffs. When it comes to the well-being of DCI’s marching membership, one example of how the corps in DCI are implementing these initiatives can be seen by the work of the Blue Knights. The Blue Knights, based out of Denver, Colorado, sought to add an extra layer of marching safety through their administrative team. 

A Student-First Culture

All great programs should have an emergency action plan in place. This plan may detail weather, personnal, or health emergencies and include a chain of command, a first responder protocol, and a contact platform. The NFHS Band Safety course outlines necessary steps and offers best practice approaches to creating an emergency action plan. Specifically, they recommend that this plan be approved, practiced, and implemented prior to the start of the season. The course encourages empowering participants on all levels to become members of a participant response team. Ultimately, the key with any emergency action plan is to ensure that “everyone must know exactly what is to be done in an emergency and who is responsible for each task.” As of the 2019 season, all Blue Knights admin are required to be AED/CPR/First-Aid certified. Executive Director Mark Arnold first addressed the proposal in January, according to Tour Director Abel Cabrera, following DCI’s annual meeting. Arnold’s own certification was due to expire, and with the new initiatives in place for DCI participants this year, Arnold thought this should be a necessary addition to the coursework. The Blue Knights team took the idea and ran with it. The training was addressed in this year’s vetting interviews as well, ensuring that all administrator candidates would be on board with this expectation.  Cabrera chose the specific course, “which covers basic First-Aid training, AED Defibrillator training, and CPR training all in one 6-10 hour [online] course…[through the] American Red Cross.” He also explained that the course is extremely affordable, only $30, and that admins would be reimbursed upon successful completion of the course. The purpose? Student safety. Cabrera expressed that this is the kind of training they “hope we won’t need to use. If the need arises, we will not hesitate to keep our kids safe.” DCI is making massive strides toward ensuring that all members of the participating corps can perfect their craft in an environment that values their safety, and the Blue Knights are one fantastic example of how corps can foster this kind of student-first culture.

Looking Toward the Future

The team envisions their entire staff and admin team to be certified through this course in coming years as well, but have limited the requirement to admin only for the 2019 season. This year, 14 Blue Knights tour admin who will have daily contact with marching members will be certified; 5 of those admin will be on tour at any given time. They believe that this kind of standard promotes safety, preparedness, and gives parents a peace of mind. “Safety is above all else,” Cabrera concludes. “I would hate to think that we either didn’t do enough, or didn’t try to prepare ourselves for any type of situation.”

Learn More

More information on the Blue Knight’s chosen American Red Cross course can be found here. Information regarding the DCI-wide required NFHS Band Safety course can be found here.

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