Mayor: Chirurgeons overstepping certifications reason for change at Point

By Peregrine Fairchylde

The questions were pointed and sometimes angry, and the responses did not always satisfy the crowd, but tempers remained largely in check during an hour-long public meeting held Wednesday afternoon by Pennsic 35 Mayor Baroness Brise Sanguin, OP, outside the First Aid Pavilion, formerly Chirurgeon’s Point.

And in response to the foremost question on the minds of many there– exactly what had transpired to cause the mayor to turn over operation of the Point to NorthWest EMS – though Mayor Brise remained unspecific on the details, citing privacy issues, she did say that some chirurgeons at the War had “exceeded [the] authority” of their mundane first aid certifications, which had given her “grave concerns” and led to the action.

“We had gotten to the point it wasn’t one or two people,” she said. “It was chronic.”

At that point, Viscountess Kaellyn mac Dermott, who was the War Chirurgeon for Pennsic 35 and is now coordinator of first aid volunteers for the War, added: “It’s because I couldn’t police it fast enough to answer their concerns.”

Starting at 1 p.m., Mayor Brise and Viscount Viscount Edward Zifran of Gendy, the emergency deputy mayor, took more than 30 questions over a little more than an hour from a crowd that started at about three dozen but ultimately swelled to more than 75 gentles, most of whom appeared to be chirurgeons: Red hats, leeches and fleams were abundant. Despite the heat, the crowd stayed almost undiminished until the mayor ended the session shortly after 2 p.m.

Judging by the crowd’s reaction, the most promising answer provided by the mayoral staff was to an inquiry as to whether the reports regarding the incidents that led to Mayor Brise’s decision could be released after having confidential personal information removed from them.

“You’ve brought up a good point,” said Viscount Edward. “Allow her some time to actually give this thought and consult with some folks and consider this possibility.”

Mayor Brise also reported that the personal medical information that had been removed from the Point previously was back in the hands of Viscountess Kaellyn.

After the meeting, Master Caelin on Andrede, OP, of Ansteorra, the Deputy Society Chirurgeon, said the records had been removed and placed in his possession according to procedure laid out in the Society Chirurgeon’s Handbook and no request had been made to him for those records until late Tuesday night, at about 10:50 p.m.

During the public session the question “Why?” was brought up again and again.

“Now that you have put 10,000-plus people at risk, can you please explain the reason so the rumors stop and we all have a clue?” asked Master El of Two Knives.

“I have not put anyone at risk,” responded Mayor Brise. “We have EMS taking care of triage … we are fully staffed, we have doctors, we have paramedics, we have first aid people.”

The other major question that, judging by crowd reaction, was not satisfactorily answered dealt with the question of liability protection for warranted chirurgeons who volunteer as first aid helpers, the U.S. Volunteer Protection Act, and Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan law. While the mayor and her emergency deputy both insisted the protections were in place, some in the crowd contested that position. Viscount Edward asked one questioner to provide a copy of the U.S. Volunteer Protection Act so it could be reviewed and a more satisfactory answer provided.

Mark the Faceitous, a heavy fighter and chirurgeon who identified himself as a mundane family practice physician, said that “we’ve always appreciated having EMS back up the chirurgeons,” but asked the mayor if she was comfortable having non-SCA persons providing first aid, given the unique issues the chirurgeonate is used to dealing with, such as armor extraction.

“We are in a different position than the mundane world,” he said.

“Yes,” Mayor Brise responded to whether she was confident in the ability of NorthWest to handle such situations. “We have SCA individuals involved in this.”

Another gentle asserted that, as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the SCA and the Pennsic War were subject to the federal Freedom of Information law, and that minutes of meetings – such as any that led up to the announcement that EMS would run Chirurgeon’s Point – must be made available to the public. Viscount Edward countered that, saying that such minutes “would be under executive session,” and thus exempt from disclosure.

The question of money donated to the Chirurgeonate Fund was raised, and Mayor Brise said that money would carry over to next year’s War to be used to purchase supplies, as was usual practice. This prompted a query as to whether the chirurgeonate would be in charge of the Point again next year, to which the mayor replied, “That’s up to next Pennsic’s mayor,” Baroness Rosamund Beauvisage.

Another gentle asked whether NorthWest EMS was reimbursing Pennsic for supplies they use that had been purchased for the War; she said that anything they used was being replaced. Master Iustinos Tekton, called Justin, a former War Chirurgeon, added that supplies were purchased for the war with money already part of the event’s general revenue, and further that he had no problem with the EMS personnel using the supplies on hand.

Mayor Brise also told the crowd that no additional money was being paid to NorthWest under the contract they have with the War.

A question about whether chirurgeons in training (CITs) would be allowed to work shifts during the war led to some brief confusion. Viscount Edward has replied to the gentle that, “We’ll have to take that up with the senior chirurgeon staff.” But this prompted another question: “Is there a cirurgeon staff?”

“Here is the thing,” His Excellency replied. “Yes, there is no active chirurgeonate on site. That does not mean you’re not warranted chirurgeons. There is not active chirurgeonate activity. Whatever rules and procedures you folks have are still in effect.”

“[But] not as an organized part of the Pennsic staff,” added Mayor Brise.

Toward the end of the meeting, Lord Yehuda ben Maimon, who has worked as a chirurgeon at Pennsic the past 10 years, pointed out that the mere fact so many gentles showed up to the meeting was a good sign.

“The whole reason you’re here in the heat is because you care,” he said. “I think we all came here because we want the answers and unfortunately we can’t have them today.... We all want to make that decision ourselves, but we have to ceded that authority to the mayor.”

Then, turning to Mayor Brise, he entreated, “Please promise there will be more information later.” In response, she said she could only promise to try and get more information out.

After the meeting, Viscountess Kaellyn said she felt that first aid service was going “very, very well” under the new arrangement.

“The EMS and the doctors have been working like demons. I worship every one of them,” she said. “They’ve been doing far more than they were expected to do here.”

But though she has some volunteer first aid helpers, she said she would very much like to have a dozen more to get through the end of the war.

“We can figure out what happened and what could have happened better after Pennsic,” Her Excellency said. “Right now, we need to concentrate on giving first aid to the populace. I understand completely what the chirurgeons feel – I’m one of them. And I don’t feel [ill will] against any of them if they don’t feel they can come back. But I would like to see some of them work out the differences and come in and help us out until the end of the event.”

Deputy Society Chirurgeon Caelin said in an interview after the meeting that he differed with Mayor Brise’s interpretation of the Society Chirurgeon’s Handbook when it came to the authority to remove the chirurgeonate from operating at the War.

“What it [the handbook] says is you can have an event with no chirurgeonate,” he said. “It doesn’t say you can remove the chirurgeonate.”

He cited section III.9, General Policies, which reads in part: “Any Chirurgeon who is available and willing to provide first aid at an event can not be prohibited from doing so by anyone other than the Kingdom Chirurgeon or a duly-delegated administrative superior in the Chirurgeonate (e.g., a Chirurgeon-in-Charge at an interkingdom event).”

“They’re choosing very small segments out of context,” Master Caelin said.


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Quotes from the Chirurgeon Handbook

Master Caelin points out the pertinent sections of the Chirurgeon Handbook. Sections III.9 and III.11 cover this issue. The complete Handbook is available at

III.9. General Policies

There is no requirement for the Chirurgeonate to function at any SCA event. A Chirurgeon who is at an event but not on duty, and does not wish to be on duty, is not required to provide first aid unless required otherwise by law.

Any Chirurgeon who is available and willing to provide first aid at an event can not be prohibited from doing so by anyone other than the Kingdom Chirurgeon or a duly-delegated administrative superior in the Chirurgeonate (e.g., a Chirurgeon-in-Charge at an interkingdom event).

First aid in the SCA is Good Samaritan in nature (see Appendix C), and therefore is provided free of charge. No one will be charged for a Chirurgeon's care, including first aid supplies. Kingdom and local custom governs who pays for the maintenance of Chirurgeons' first-aid kit. Since first-aid supplies benefit the populace and SCA groups as a whole, receiving contributions of supplies or money for supplies is permitted both from individuals and groups. Any donations should be documented and also reported to the Kingdom Chirurgeon in a Chirurgeon’s yearly doomsday report (Section IV.7). Raffles and other
activities to raise money for the Chirurgeonate are acceptable as long as they conform to local laws governing such activities.

No conscious person will be forced to accept treatment without his or her consent. A Chirurgeon needs to document when consent is denied (Section IV.3). When a person is not conscious, standard medical practice considers this person to have given implied consent.
When treatment is given by implied consent, the Chirurgeon giving the care must document this (Sections IV.1 and IV.2).

Only the Crown, the Corporate Marshal, Kingdom Marshals, or Marshals-in-Charge may bar a fighter from combat. In certain situations, a Chirurgeon may consult with the appropriate parties regarding the safety of beginning or continuing combat involving an
injured fighter. Such situations could include an injury or illness that would endanger the fighter’s own health or safety, or an injury or illness that would endanger the opponent beyond the normal and acceptable risks of combat.

A Chirurgeon will not consume alcohol for a period of at least 8 hours prior to being on duty as a Chirurgeon. If a Chirurgeon is taking medication which affects alertness (e.g., narcotics, sedating antihistamines), they should not be on duty as a Chirurgeon.

III.11. The Organization of Chirurgeons at SCA Events

There will be a Chirurgeon-in-Charge at all SCA events where the Chirurgeonate is functioning to coordinate and organize the activities of the Chirurgeonate. Only a Chirurgeon in good standing can function as a Chirurgeon-in-Charge. If a Chirurgeon is the only Chirurgeon functioning at an SCA event, then he or she is the Chirurgeon-in-Charge by default.

There is no requirement that the Chirurgeonate be functioning at any SCA event. If the Chirurgeonate is not functioning, the autocrat should know how to reach emergency medical services quickly in the event of an injury or illness.

If members of the Chirurgeonate are present at an event, are warranted in good-standing,are willing to volunteer, and no Chirurgeon-in-Charge has been previously designated for that event, then those Chirurgeons may chose a Chirurgeon-in-Charge from amongst themselves. If members of the Chirurgeonate wish to organize themselves in this manner, then no one other than the Kingdom Chirurgeon may bar them from volunteering.

A Chirurgeon who is active in a local group is neither required nor obligated to be the Chirurgeon-in-Charge of that group’s events, even if the group has included that Chirurgeon on its roster of group officers (see Sections II.1 and III.17 on Chirurgeons as local officers). The autocrat of an event may ask any Chirurgeon in good standing to be the Chirurgeon-in-Charge with the exception of inter-kingdom events (see Section III.13). The Kingdom Chirurgeon is the final arbiter of the choice of Chirurgeon-in-Charge at events.