As a senior, I was so excited to go on the 2012 band trip to New York City over spring break. After over 24 hours on a bus, we finally arrived in Times Square where we had dinner and walked around.
The rest of the week all went according to plan. We toured Radio City Music Hall, the 9/11 Memorial, Rockefeller Center, The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Central Park, The Museum of Natural History and got to view the city from the “Top of the Rock.” We even got to go to a taping of the Today Show in an attempt to get on television!
We were all having so much fun together and were pretty bummed when we finally had to get on the busses for a very long trip back to De Soto.
We left at about 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13. At about midnight, we made a stop so that everyone could get up, stretch and use the restroom. Unfortunately, one of the busses had a few kids who were sick and throwing up. No big deal. People get sick every band trip. We made another stop a few hours later and we discovered that more people were getting sick. Weird, but manageable.
At around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, we stopped at a rest stop in western Pennsylvania. Things had become crazy. The chaperones on the trip were running around trying to take care of the sick and the people who weren’t sick were worried for those who were, and that we would be next.
As more and more people got sick and the sick got sicker, we were all still in shock that this was actually happening. An executive decision was made to go to a hospital to make sure everyone was okay. All three charter busses hit the road and ended up at Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
While we were there, students were given IV’s and anti-nausea medication to stop the symptoms and treat the severe dehydration that many students were suffering from.
After about six hours at the hospital, everyone was cleared to go back home.
While I was lucky to be one of the few of the 164 people on the trip that did not get sick, I, as well as the rest of the band, am incredibly thankful for the kindness that the people of Mount Pleasant exhibited.
At one of the rest stops we stopped at, the convenience store and the Starbucks donated rolls of plastic grocery bags and straws, respectively. The Frick Hospital staff were also incredibly gracious, making sure that the sick got the care that they needed and providing the well with snacks and drinks. The hospital also donated latex gloves, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and anti-nausea medication for the ride home. The local Costco, who heard about our situation, donated 12 cases of Gatorade.
A big thank you goes out, not only to those who donated the aforementioned things, but to band director Emma Willis, the trip nurses Darla Stevens and Mary Poulain and all of the chaperones. These people handled this unfathomable situation incredibly well.
While the health department is still investigating the incident, the presumed culprit is the norovirus, a highly contagious disease that is transmitted by contaminated food and water, person to person contact and coming in contact with contaminated surfaces. This virus causes vomiting and dehydration which infected band members experienced.
With everyone feeling better, this is now something that we can think back on and laugh about. NYC 2012 will be a trip that we will never forget!