Barton, Patricia

Interviewer: Jean McMillen
Place of Interview: 41 Chatfield Drive
Date of Interview:
File No: 66/72 Cycle:
Summary: Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service, Crescendo

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript

Pat Barton Interview:

This is file 60. This is Jean McMillen, and I am interviewing Patricia Barton. She is going to talk about the Ambulance Service where she is Chief of First Aid, and she is also going to talk about Crescendo. Today’s date is Sept. 18, 2013.

JM:What is your full name?

PB:Patricia H. Barton

JM: Birth date?


JM:Birth place?

PB:Honolulu, Hawaii

JM:Your parents’ names, please?

PB:Catharine Levy Hite and Robert Atkinson Hite

JM:Do you have sibling?

PB:Yes, my brother, elder, is Charles Harrison Hite and my sister, younger, is Catharine Hite Dunn.

JM:What is your educational background?

PB:How far back do you want to go?

JM:Let’s go to college.

PB:Sweet Briar College in Virginia, I have a BA from Sweet Briar and I have a Master of Fine Arts from Boston University, in their Early Music Department.

JM:How did you come to this area?

PB:My husband was offered a position for a New Yorker in Shemkameco, (Pine Plains, Ed.) New York. He is the facilities manager on a very big property for some people who live in the city. We packed up and moved down here.

JM;How did you get involved with the ambulance service?

PB:First they recruited my husband as a driver. When I was in the horse industry which I was for a long time, I did a lot of vet tech work with my own animals and for a bunch of the vets around. So medicine has always been an interest. He was on the ambulance for a year, and I decided I would become an EMT.

JM:With EMT you have to have a lot of training and certification.


PB:It is a 60 hour course to start. You have to pass a test that satisfies the state of Connecticut, and also the National Registration of EMTs initially. Then you have to recertify that certification for the first two years and then you get to go on the three year plan. Then after you have been on for as long as some people on our squad have, we have one person who is actually exempt from recertification. Then it goes to five; after a while they figure you really know what you are doing.

JM:Do you like it?

PB:Oh absolutely.


PB:It gives you a chance to help people, I find it very interesting in terms of things that can happen to people, go wrong with people, and all the rest of that. It also gives one a way of giving back to a very good town.

JM:What is your title specifically?

PB:I am specifically called First Aid Chief. I am the Chief of First aid which means all the active supplies, and all of that. it also under my prevue is training, I have to take care of all the training and make sure everybody is certified properly for the state, for OSCHA, and for OEMS; all those various groups.

JM:What is OEMS?

PB:It is the Office of Emergency Medical Services. It is a state and federal organization; it falls under FEMA. It is very complicated.

JM:I can see that. What are some of the things that you have to order for supplies?

PB:Well, we keep the ambulances fully stocked, not only according to the state regulations, but according to things that we like to have. Every squad has their own way within their ambulances so I order bandages, stiff neck collars, strets for the long boards, nasal cannulas which is an oxygen device, breathing masks, and oxygen for the ambulances and for the first responders; all that sort of stuff. There are many things that go into an ambulance including epee-pens, and activated charcoal, thermometers, and all the tools of the trade.

JM:In talking with Jackie Rice, you have a variety of different kinds of emergencies; you have the Appalachian Trail, you’ve got the Housatonic River, as well as Geer, Noble Horizons, ordinary heart attacks, car accidents; you’ve got everything. It is not just one small part of the forest. You have a lot of different kinds, so you have a lot of different emergencies that you have to be prepared for.

PB:That’s correct. The ambulances are stocked the same way for every call; it is just certain things that we use of different calls. The other pieces of equipment that live in our garage are much more


specific. Our rescue truck is very specific; we have an ATV, and a gator which are all very specific to certain kinds of calls. The ambulance is the ambulance if you will.

JM:There are two of them aren’t there?


JM:What are some of the training programs you have developed?

PB:I have organized a number of different lecture scenarios. The latest one was a gentleman from the Henry Low Heart Center in Hartford Hospital whose expertize is heart transplants. He also developed a device that is called a left ventricle assistive device which is implant into the heart. There are 70 patients in our general area who have these devices. Care of these patients is very different from care of the regular patients. Stephen actually found an article in the “Hartford Courant” about this guy, and I said, “Oh I should try to find out if he will come talk.” He came and we invited a number of squads around plus the medics and the Salisbury Visiting Nurses because they are involved. We had about 50 people there. He brought a prototype; he also brought 2 patients with him. They had agreed to come so that we could listen to the hum in their chest. It was fabulous! Those are the kinds of things that I like to organize that sort of challenge people’s expertize and their knowledge.

I do simpler things like last week I ran a little training for the new people on our squad which was titled “Taking Vitals in a Moving Ambulance”. It is very important and difficult; it is harder than you think, and I wrote this whole sheet of all the vitals that I wanted these people to do. I was the patient and another fellow who was an EMT was a patient and Jackie drove. We drove all over Salisbury; she kept looking in the back. ”Are you done yet?” “No, we’re not done yet.” But little things like that scenario training are very successful.

JM:It is practical and it makes the EMT more confident when they go out and it is an actual ride.

PB;These are new people so they haven’t had the same kind of experience and they are likely to try to use the machinery which we have as opposed to doing things manually. So I insisted that everybody had to do everything manually, no machinery. Because that is what you have to do in the field. You can’t carry a ten lead with you to try to check somebody out. That is the kind of training thing that I do.

JM:I do remember Jackie telling me that people had scheduled days when they were on call. Your scheduled day is Monday. Tell me about the B team.

PB:Oh the B team, my favorite group. It’s Boyles, Belter and Barton. Of course we all know Lori Belter from Best & Cavallaro who has been a long time resident of the town, and Larry Boyles is the electrician at Sharon Electric. We three have been going together for a number of years. We have a very good relationship and a very good system all worked out for ourselves.

JM:Can you explain in layman terms when you get a call, what do you three do?


PB:One of the nice things about having three of us all the time is that if one of us had something specific to do in the middle of the day, they would just let us know. It is a legal call with 2 EMTS, you don’t need three. When we have the three of us, it is sort of an understood thing that we take turns driving, and two will be in the back with the patient. Then the next time around, another person will drive and two will be in the back so we trade off so everybody gets the same amount of mileage, particularly in the back. We have it worked out so that we all do certain things; Larry is a particularly good diagnostician, so he does a lot of that, I get along very well some of the elderly people. I sing to them to keep them calm. Lori knows a ton of people so it is always comforting for somebody in the back who has a problem; they are going to the hospital and they don’t want to be in the ambulance, they hurt to know people.

JM:Sure, it is very comforting.

PB:So we have this great thing worked out and occasionally we all, you know if you are sick you can drive. It works out having three people. We are a wonderful team.

JM:I know that you are one of three chiefs; what are the titles and who are the other people that have these titles in the ambulance service?

PB:There are 4 chiefs. Jackie of course is the Chief of Service; she is the head of the pyramid. Underneath her is Kaki Schaeffer Ried who is the Assistance chief of Service, then there is me. I am First Aid chief and then we have Mike Brenner who is Rescue Chief.

JM:Anything related to the ambulance and your specific job on it that I haven’t covered that I should? Is there anything that you want to add?

PB:Well, another piece of that is that the team of administrators where we get together and make policy decisions, we take care of problems, we all listen to the radio more than anybody else just because that is sort of a responsibility that goes with the job. There is a little more to it than just ordering supplies and running trainings. We had a long session last night working through some issues with the squad and that is a part of it.

JM:You have rather a large squad; some people have been on for ages.

PB:We have some very long time members.

JM:I think Jackie said between 40 and 50 on the squad?

PB:There are about 45 EMTs and half a dozen drivers, and then we have 2 EMRs and it does start to add up.

JM:What is an EMR?



PB:EMR is not a lesser certification, but it is the first level certification for this emergency medical service. Then there is EMT basic, then there is EMT intermediate or advanced-they change the verbiage every two years in the state of Connecticut.

JM:I remember; every two years they change the terminology.

PB:Yes, and they do it on the testing which is unfortunate. When I first took my EMT class we did primary survey, secondary survey and things like that. Then they went away from that; first survey, focus survey same thing but they changed the name which ended up being a little bit confusing. Then they went back to what we had originally learned which made me quite happy because I could remember it. This is all simply for the testing; you have to pass the test.

JM:If you fail a test, do you get a second chance?

PB:Yes, absolutely. If you take the class, there are two parts originally to the state test. One is a practical portion where you actually stand up on stage and perform certain skills and there are 6 pieces to that practicum. There is also then a written test. If you fail 2 of the practical part, you go back and take those two parts again. If you fail more than 2, you have to retake the whole thing. On the written test, you cannot fail; there is no failure. There are 4 or 5 portions of it and you can’t do 5 and just to 1 again. You must do the whole thing again. If your class ended in May, you have until something like April the following year to finish your testing or you have to take the class again which actually makes some sense . Although all the squads in the Northwest corner all the officers know each other and it is such a small area that you know just about everybody, but what we do with people who are struggling through their testing a little bit is instead of making them wait, we fund their going to a recert class so they go through it in 20 hour or 25 hours. They can go through and do the basics really quickly again to refresh their memory before they go to try to take the thing again. So there is a lot of help out there. If you don’t like that teacher in this town, there is another one over here and we’ll set you up with that person.

JM:Well, we’re doing to leave the ambulance and go to singing=Crescendo. Now you have a background in Early Music, is that why you got involved with Crescendo?

PB:Not originally, originally I got involved with Crescendo because I wanted another place to sing or a place to sing. I had stopped singing for a few years. Then we moved up here and I was mostly a mother-type for the beginnings when Emily was a baby; then I couldn’t stand it anymore, I had to sing. I ran into somebody who said, ”Oh they have this group down at Trinity Lime Rock; and it is called Crescendo. Anybody can join.” So I said, OK. I went down, and it wasn’t that anyone could join.

JM:No, not knowing Christine.

PB: My audition was just fine because I read. Unfortunately she demoted me in the beginning and made me a tenor. Well, most contraltos can sing tenor which was fine. Finally she said, “This time we’re going to do this and who had the voice parts. “ I called her up and said,” I really don’t want to sing


Tenor any more. I really want to sing alto, again.” “Well, you will have to come down and re audition for alto.” Our relationship has ever been rocky. Now I sing alto. I was a mezzo-soprano in school. I have been with them since their beginning, basically.

JM:It has been going what 12 years?

PB:Ten years, this is the eleventh fall, I think. I think next year they are going to celebrate the 10th.

JM:About how many members are in it now?

PB:It varies from year to year; we are doing this particular fall project with about 35. No including the soloists and the instruments.

JM:That’s just the choral part. You practice where?

PB:At Trinity, Lime Rock.


PB:On Monday nights.

JM:You have a busy Monday, don’t you?

PB:Yeah, I was late this last Monday night for rehearsal because I riding a late call on the ambulance, but that’s ok. It works.

JM:I don’t know that much about choral singing; tell me what the different voices are in Crescendo?

PB:Crescendo has as many voice parts that are required. You can split any voice part into 2 or even 3 parts. For example in some of the music we are doing this fall, there are 2 soprano parts, totally separate. So you have a soprano 1and a soprano 2; very often those two lines are not any different in terms of their melodic content or their height. It is just 2 soprano lines; then there is an alto line, and a tenor line and in one piece that I am doing with a small group there are 2 sopranos, and alto line, 2 tenor lines and a bass line. It depends, but it is basically soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. We are doing some double chorus work this time around.

JM:It is different from barbershop singing, is it?

PB:Yes. We have section leaders; we don’t have it in this project because funding was a bit shy. Often she will, especially if it is double chorus work, Christine will split the altos. She’ll split so she has at least a strong singer in each of the choirs. That would be a leader.

JM:I know she does a lot of different kinds of concerts, what was your favorite concert that you participated in?



PB:Biber. I loved the Biber. (November, 2008,” Requiem and Tenebrae” Ed.) I love that music. I found the Chinese concert that we did this spring very interesting. It had its moments with being incredibly difficult. Quite frankly it was not my favorite, but I’ll sing anything that you put in front of me. If you give me a piece of music, I’ll sing it. The Biber was wonderful, and some of what we are doing now is quite nice.

JM:Does the chorus have difficulty learning the different languages?

PB:German, it does not flow well off the tongue. I think it is hard for some people who don’t do it enough to wrap their head around the fact that the Latin we are singing in this particular project is German Latin as opposed to Italian Latin or church Latin. They are different.

JM:The pronunciation is different.

PB: The C, it is harder for people who are used to saying inamichi or inamicee. With practice it comes.

JM:She is a taskmaster.

PB:Well, she is. I have to say over the ten years that I have known her, she has mellowed. She is still very exacting, no question about that, but her style has mellowed.

JM:She is exacting of herself.

PB:Nobody gives as much as she does.

JM:I know being a clavichord pupil of hers.

PB:Nobody gives more, her preparation is inordinate.

JM:Yes, and meticulous.

PB:It is easier for some people to appreciate what is happening. I sing with her on other fronts also, so I have gotten to know her and her style perhaps a little better that the average chorister.

JM:That makes a difference.

PB:Because I know that when she will say something; she will look directly and point at you and say, “That A was flat.” I know full well my A was not flat. But she heard a flat A, so somebody has to be the guinny; I don’t take it personally. I’m happy; it’s Ok if she wants to pick on me it’s OK.

JM:She has done a lot of different concerts. My favorite was the “Dance of Death”.

PB:That was so hard!

JM:I know it was hard, but oh it was so wonderful.

PB:That was a mixed media thing which is fairly popular.8.

JM:That was the first one that I had seen that she did.

PB:But of course the Chinese project was mixed media also. That was very interesting to have Kiau Loi speaking Chinese and then we would sing: then he would speak a little more and then we’d sing. It was really kind of cool. She likes to do things that are unknown, not necessarily unpublished although after her trip to Poland, she brought home some music that was unpublished. I think she is trying to put it together in her spare time.

JM:What spare time?

PB:Exactly. So that could be part of a project coming up.

JM:Since you have been there at the beginning, other that Christine mellowing of her style are there other changes in the concert format, or the music? She has added the early instruments, I know; that wasn’t there at the beginning.

PB:Right, but a great deal of that is the detail of each concert is relative to funding.

JM:Yes, funding is always an issue.

PB:Funding is an issue, and because it is kind of an unusual group, it is not like Tri-Arts where whatever is on Broadway might come to Tri-Arts. It is not that kind of music. Within the Early Music world, it is well thought of, and lots of Early Music people come. Christine is a world class harpsichordist. She did that little gig down there at the Museum in New York City, and it was very well attended. Any time she and Rodrigo (Tarraza Ed.) do something, it is always very well received. But those are all Early Music people. They are people who appreciate the Baroque or even earlier, so they are willing to come. When people in the great bunch of people may or may not attend the concert look at the program and don’t see anything on it that they have ever heard of in their lives, I think it is sort of a leap of faith on their part to come here if they have never been into a Crescendo concert because they come to heard something about and who the heck knows who that is? It is not Mozart or Bach or Beethoven.

JM:hers are always very different and very unusual, and we are so blessed in this area to have someone like Christine.

PB:I cannot agree more. It is so frustrating for her in not being able to-for example the two greatest solos in our work the counter tenor Nicholas Tamagna who sings in Europe. He’s an incredible voice and he is willing to come play. People like that…

JM:She draws them because of her reputation and expertize.

PB:It is an incredible collaboration. When I think about some of the other people who are… Well Rodrigo is world-renown in his own right. Trisha van Oers who is the recorder player; she’s


phenomenal. They come have dinner at her house, and play at church. It is really an experience; I think people don’t recognize how fortunate they are if they are musicians to have people like that in the area.

JM:I think because it has been going for ten years there is a broader base now than there was.

PB:I agree. I wish at the concerts that I have been to; I have wished there had been more young people.

JM:Maybe that is changing?

PB:This one we are doing this fall for example one of the pieces is going to be sung by sopranos with a choir of junior singers. (Before Bach-Music for Peace in a Time of War with the Berkshire Children’s Chorus Ed.) There are not a ton of young singers around who want to sing this kind of music.

JM:There are not a lot of young people that want to come and sit in the audience either.

PB:No and that is sad, but it is true.

JM:It is getting better.

PB:It is; the audiences are greater. We are beginning to appeal more to the college age. Some of that is her relationship with Simon’s Rock; she taught up there this last year. I think all of that and her relationship with Amherst and the Early Music group up there. Christine is a bit of a dynamo all in the name of music.

JM;is there something else that you would like to add to the Crescendo portion that I haven’t asked?

PB:I don’t think so other than to sum it up by saying it is really an incredible experience to be able to sing with a group that sings things that are challenging, not only beautiful and with period instruments which are very different. Every single project that we do is a learning experience which is great.

JM:That is wonderful because it keeps you learning, challenged, and excited. That is what music should be.

PB:Right, and humble!

JM:Oh yes. Thank you so much.

PB:A pleasure, a pleasure.