Fainting or ill health during a performance

All choir members are responsible for reading and understanding the following guidance.  It lays out different responsibilities for concert organisers, the conductor and individual choir members – but any choir member may need to be the person who should respond to an incident.

Fainting is a sudden temporary loss of consciousness that usually results in a fall.

When you faint, you’ll feel weak and unsteady before passing out for a short period of time, usually only a few seconds. 

There may not be any warning symptoms, but some people experience:

  • yawning
  • a sudden, clammy sweat
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • fast, deep breathing
  • confusion
  • lightheadedness
  • blurred vision or spots in front of your eyes
  • ringing in your ears

What to do if you or someone else faints at a performance

If you feel you’re about to faint, lie down, preferably in a position where your head is low and your legs are raised. This will encourage blood flow to your brain.

If it’s not possible to lie down, sit with your head between your knees.

If you think someone is about to faint, you should help them lie down or sit with their head between their knees.

If a person faints and doesn’t regain consciousness within one or two minutes, put them into the recovery position.

You should then dial 999, ask for an ambulance and stay with the person until medical help arrives.                                                                         

Adapted from NHS Choices

Before a performance

BFCS concert organisers will consider (a) the likely temperature in the venue, (b) accessibility should someone fall ill and need assistance to leave.  During the concert day rehearsal

  • the organisers should point out exit routes from the performance area and alert members if exit space is limited. They should remind members of these guidelines.
  • Choir members should make sure they are well hydrated before the performance. If they feel unwell, they should inform their neighbour or an organiser, consider a change of place (e g to the end of a line) and be prepared to sit down/remain seated if they feel light headed or ill

During a performance

Members may feel inhibited in responding to a problem for fear of disrupting the concert. The risk of such behaviour is that responses are delayed and time wasted before first aid is provided and professional help sought.  Therefore

  • If a member feels unwell during the performance they should sit down or leave if they can do so without disturbance
  • The member next to someone who needs to leave should accompany them and ensure they are safe and looked after, unless there is another member nearby who knows the ill person and is prepared to take responsibility for them
  • If someone faints but hasn’t injured themselves by falling, they will probably come round in a few minutes. They can then be helped to leave the performance area or remain seated (see NHS guidelines above).
  • If someone is clearly ill, or has injured themselves by falling, their immediate neighbours are responsible for
    • Ensuring the person is lying comfortably (see NHS guidelines above)
    • Moving them to a comfortable place
    • Alerting the conductor if they are not already aware of the situation
  • If the conductor is aware of the illness of a choir member or other performer, they should consider stopping the performance. This may not be necessary if the problem is clearly minor and help is being provided.  However, if the problem is unclear or serious, the performance should normally be halted to enable aid to be given without constraint.
  • It may become clear that the problem is a minor one. Otherwises, in the absence of professional help or First Aiders, one of the BFCS concert organisers or Trustees is responsible for ensuring the member has a safe journey home, or escorting them with the emergency services.

After any illness, fainting or other health emergency incident

BFCS Trustees are responsible for reviewing the choir’s response and recommending any changes to guidelines.