Published: July 31, 2012

Bagpipe triage for pipers in a pinch

At a competition it’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality, but for pipers competing at the Kincardine Scottish Festival on July 7th they’ll be covered after the Piper’s Choice company of London, Ontario, will have a team of experts ready to troubleshoot problems for needy players.

“EMS – Emergency Maintenance Services” will be available at contests throughout the province as a free service for solo competitors who have maintenance or tuning problems on contest day. A team of volunteer experienced pipers will wear red vests and hats, with each EMS team member carrying essentials like dry hemp, waxed hemp, Teflon tape, valves, cord ties, knives, scissors, tuners, screw drivers and waxes.

“Oftentimes, less experienced players and possibly their parents . . . do not know who to ask for help on the day of a contest, and sometimes they just need someone to give them a quick listen and tuning adjustment,” said Piper’s Choice proprietor Doug MacRae, who is also the Pipe-Major of the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band. “But at other times they require assistance with a faulty valve or loose joint. These are quick fixes for the advanced players, but those new to competition may not be able to handle these.”

MacRae added that if the Pipers’ Choice EMS team does not have the necessary equipment, they will direct the piper to any of the vendors at the games and assist with the required setup.

“This service is not meant to undermine anything taught by teachers in preparing their students, it’s simply a quick repair when players have a panic moment on the day of a contest,” MacRae said. “We hope to expand to other regions over the next several months.”

MacRae described the EMS volunteers as pipers “who are looking to help give back to the community.”

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