Reid, Katherine Schafer

Interviewer: Jean McMillen
Place of Interview: 41 Chatfield Drive
Date of Interview:
File No: 68 Cycle:
Summary: ambulance service, 911 dispatcher, Holley Wlliams House, Cannon Museum

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript

Kaki Reid Interview:

This is file # 68. This is Jean McMillen, and I am interviewing Katharine Schafer Reid. She is going to talk about the Salisbury Ambulance Service and also the Holley-Williams House. Today’s date is December 2, 2013. We’ll start with the genealogical information.

(Darin: 2013)

JM:2013, Thank you -what do I know?

(Darin: You are only three years ahead of yourself.)

JM:That’s ok, I’ll get there eventually.

JM:What is your full name?

KR:Katharine Schafer Reid

JM:What’s your nickname?


JM:Birth date please?


JM:Your birth place?

KR:Stamford, Ct.

JM:Your parents’ names?

KR:Judith Snyder and Morgan Schafer (Parents divorced.)

JM:You said that you have a sister?

KR:Yes, Elizabeth Schafer Burdick, nickname of Betsy.

JM:Your educational background?

KR:I graduated from college with a BS in Education and then did a few classes after graduating.

JM:You also went to Salisbury Central School.

KR:I went to Salisbury Central and I went to Housatonic Valley Regional High School. I went to Southern Connecticut State College. I kept it in the state.

JM:Now I just learned that you know how the ambulance service started. Would you tell me that, please?


KR:In doing research for the 40th anniversary of the ambulance, I found out that there was a bad car accident in town; people were upset because there wasn’t an ambulance in the town. The ambulance had to come from Sharon. So from what I understood there was a group of businessmen that gathered at the White Hart, and decided to form the ambulance service and donate money for the ambulance.

JM:Do you know the names of some of these men that initiated this?

KR:I don’t know all of them; I know there is a plaque on the ambulance garage that says “All the founding members were…” but I don’t recall if those were the ones there. I believe John Harney had something to do with it and Reese Harris overheard the conversation and said that he had a building that the ambulance could use. I am not sure who else and would not want to…

JM:Who owned the garage where the ambulance is now? Was that something that John Harney…?

KR:I believe Reese Harris owned it and then gave it to the ambulance garage. I don’t think that happened right away.

JM:That probably came later. What year did the ambulance service start?

KR:1971 (Darin whispered to us.)

JM:Kaki how did you get involved with the ambulance service?

KR:I got involved because there was a letter to the Editor that they were looking for drivers of the ambulance. I lived on Library Street which is around the corner from the ambulance, and my daughter was going to college. I was looking for something to do besides my work; something to get out and meet other people and being social because that I could very easily stay home and lock myself up. I went up and talked to them and learned how to drive the ambulance. Then it was suggested (by Bob Fails Ed.) that I take the EMT class to see what they do in the back of the ambulance. All of a sudden I passed the EMT class and got a card and they threw me in the back. Here you can help with patient care now. I go back and forth between the back and the front wherever I am needed.

JM:Have you done all of the advanced training or have you put a limit on how much training you really want?

KR:I have not done all the advanced; there is another step that I could do but the ambulance doesn’t really have…It is called AEMT where you can do IVs, but we don’t have that service that we provide for Salisbury, and the state keeps talking about getting rid of it, so I haven’t done that. I do go to different conferences and do education just to hear different things that might help me on ambulance calls and keep up skills that way. I actually participate in another organization and do a conference for EMT in the area to help with education. They are starting to require CMEs for EMTs.

JM:What is a CME?


KR:It is certified medical education. It is credits that you can get. I know that New York State requires EMTs to have some of these credits. Connecticut hasn’t required it yet, but they will. Everybody follows everybody else. (Darin: She is Assistant Chief.)

JM:I was getting to that; it is my next question. Your title is?

KR:It is Assistant Chief of the Ambulance Service.

JM:What do you do as Assistant chief other than back up Jackie Rice? You said that you ran forms?

KR:What I do is mostly review the run forms.

JM:What are run forms?

KR:We have to do a run form on every call that we do which pretty much reporting what we saw when we got the scene medically, and what we did with the patient. We have to do vitals and record the vitals?

JM:What do you mean by vitals?

KR:Their blood pressure, their pulse, their respiration, what their skin color is or texture is; that tells you a lot about what might be going on medically with them. So we leave that with the hospital and then that is part of the patient record. We do give an oral report when we get there, but they also have the run form of what we did when the care was taken. So I review those to make sure people have documented what is needed. If things are left off, you ask them to add to it or kind of remind them, the crew or the whole squad what else legally we probably should have in there, just to cover ourselves. Unfortunately nowadays it is very important with people going so sue crazy we need to make sure that we have things documented because the theory in the Ems world is, if you didn’t write it down, you didn’t do it. Even if you say I always do this, with every call we do it, but if we don’t have it on the paper then they determine that we didn’t do it.

JM:Then you do a lot of paper shuffling. Do you do any training, per se or is that not your purview?

KR:I do paper shuffling; I have done some training actually with new EMTs; I personally feel that I am obligated to go on some of the calls and insist on vetting people with patients, with patient care, and I help with the driving for training. I feel that part of my role is to support the squad and its capacity and to help with personal training, or group training. I will suggest different training or work with the first aid chief who right now is Pat (Barton –See file #60/72 Pat Barton). One of the things that I came up with was the street drugs and got a hold of a Connecticut State Officer.

JM:How to or to prevent?




KR:To prevent, or what we would see; what should we be looking for when we arrive on a scene to protect ourselves, to figure out that the reason why this person is sick is because of drugs, not because they have the flu. What are the symptoms that happen because unfortunately it happens?

JM:What day are you on call?

KR:My normal day switches between Tuesday and Thursday because of my work schedule changes. I am not always on the schedule as much as I would like to be because my work requires that they have the opportunity of calling me in at any time.

JM:What is your day job?

KR:My paid day job is a 911 dispatcher.

JM:You work in Torrington?

KR;I work in Torrington, and yes, we cover 20 towns which is definitely this whole northwest corner. We talk to Michael’s squad members and other squads and somehow in a different capacity.

JM:Do you work with the same people if you are on call Thursdays and then different people when you are on call Tuesdays for the ambulance, or is it the same people.

KR:One of the people is the same one, and she does cover Tuesday and Thursdays, Fern Brazee. Bust sometimes when I am filling in for an open shift then of course we don’t have enough people who have signed up for all the available times, the 24 hours, then I am working with another person.

JM:But you know them all at this point. How long have you been working with the ambulance?

KR:I have been with the ambulance for 14 years.

JM:What do you get out of working with the ambulance service personally?

KR:I get the self-satisfaction of helping others and others in the community, at a time when it is probably their lowest time. Some of the people that I gone on calls with… When I know them, it makes a huge difference to them, but it is also self-satisfaction of walking in, and they are smiling at you or holding your hand or giving you a hug because they know you. I can calm them down just by walking in the door. Then that’s good.

JM:Pat sings to them which I think is lovely.

KR:I don’t sing to them. I’ll hold their hand or hug.

JM:Well, I want to know what is the #1 rule before you go out on a call.

KR:Go to the bathroom! Go to the bathroom before you go out on a call because you never know when you are going to have that opportunity again. It could be that you go on one call; you are coming


back, and another call come in. You have to go into action right there to the next call or it could be that your call ends up being a lengthy call. You go on stand-by for a fire and it could be 3 or 4 hours. As we all know when you get up from a sound sleep, you usually have to go to the bathroom.

JM:Before we go on to the Holley-Williams House, is there anything more that you want to add to this section of the ambulance that I haven’t covered?

KR:I did think of one other thing. The ambulance is like a second family; but it is made up of all different people, different occupations everybody has, but they all come together when somebody need the support, the moral support even amongst us. So we have had a few people where somebody might pass away or somebody might have surgery or we had one individual who was going through a divorce, so we all would check in with her. We would do a big dinner; a lot of time that is the women of the squad, but everybody brings something and you just have a women thing where you are just trying to lift somebody up.

JM:I got that impression from Jackie when I did her that it is a family, and it is made up of all levels, all socioeconomic levels, all careers; it is just a big family. There are 45 people on the squad?

KR:There about that; each kind of checks on others, and if somebody is going through a rough time, you just want to make sure that they are not going to be your next call that you have to go to.

JM:Everybody needs support. Holley-Williams House: You worked with Kerry Keser?

KR:Yes, I did.

JM;Do you know when she came to be Director at the Holley- William House, roughly?

KR;I don’t remember.

JM:How long was she there, do you know?

KR:I think she was there 5 or 6 years.

JM:How did you get involved?

KR:I think there was also an ad for a tour; they were looking for tour guides.

JM:This would be when?

KR:I am trying to think.

JM:I was doing it back in the 1970’s.

KR:Maybe around 2000.

JM:That would probably be about right.6.

KR:I am thinking about 1998, around then. My daughter was still in school in the area at Housatonic.

JM:So it was something that you could easily do.

KR:Right, it was mostly a weekend.

JM:Did you get any training as a docent?

KR:Kerry had some training; she did some training. Then they came up with a script, and we had to follow the script.

JM:Oh because when I was doing it, the first time that I was doing it, it was furniture. You talked about the objects. The second time that I came around doing it and that would be in the 1980’s; it was all about the people, about the family.

KR:She actually came up with a script where we portrayed Maria Holley-Williams and then we did dress the part. We would go over some of the furniture; some of the architecture, and some of the history of the area. We were also talking a little bit about the women’s history at that time, which was 1876. We would bring a little bit about the Centennial of Philadelphia. So you could incorporate a lot of little things; so you could be outside and talk about how Lakeville was back in 1876; there were not trees and we would talk a little bit about the architecture and what it would stand for. When you walk in that hall and the living room point out the architecture with the windows, so formal and there was so much detail to it. Then as you went to the dining room, there wouldn’t be as much. You would talk about the way of life back then, calling cards, and you would go visit people. What was expected of certain people?

JM:How long did you do this?

KR:I did it 5 years. Kerry left and I did it one year when she wasn’t there.

JM:Then the Cannon Museum must have been going then.

KR:the Cannon Museum was there; Lou Bucceri was there for that. (See File #61/73 Lou Bucceri Ed.)

JM:When I was doing the docent part of it both in the 70’s and the 80’s, there was no Cannon Museum. Yes, we used the Carriage House but it wasn’t set up as a separate museum.

KR;Lou was there with the museum so when we were done with ours; they would go over there or they might have done the Cannon Museum first and then they would come to the house. So he would bring them over; we would giggle because he was more 1700’s and I was supposed to portray 1800’s. We were shifting people from the 1700’s to 1800’s when they are in 2000.

JM:So who did the 7 holer? (privy Ed.)


KR:I would talk about it in my tour. Especially at the end I would say, “Make sure you go check out the ice house and the 7 hole outhouse.” I would have the best time, especially with the children where they hear, “The whole family would go there together because that was where you talked about the servants.” I loved watching the mouths drop or they would giggle or they would turn all red, and they would indicate “I would never go…” You say to them, “But that is the way life was back then and that was the only way you knew.” You wouldn’t want to talk about the servants in the house because they are all around. “Oh, that’s true.” It was privacy; it was the only privacy they had. It was a different way of life so it would incorporate the other items on the property and to make sure that they saw it all.

JM:Why did you like working at the Holley-Williams House?

KR:I have been interested in history, even when my daughter was growing up. We would go to all historical things. It just brings me back to a much quieter and peaceful time. Maybe it didn’t feel that way to them at their time, but it certainly did to me. It just seemed much more relaxing and I enjoyed getting out of character in my life and getting into a simpler life.

JM:You were married at the Holley-Williams House?

KR:I was.

JM:Why did you decide that you wanted to be married there?

KR:Because during my tour we talked about Maria coming down this gorgeous staircase that they had and you go into the parlor and get married. I just thought it would be extremely wonderful to walk down this huge staircase.

JM:Did you have a wedding gown that was of the period or not?

KR:No, I had a modern one.

JM:Seeing as how I have the groom here, when she suggested being married at the Holley-Williams House, were you a little taken aback? Or did you think it was a good idea?

Darin:Actually I thought it was really neat due to the fact that it was another part of history for that house that hasn’t been done in I don’t know how many years. To be able to be part of that history, although I told her, “Time’s ticking. When it says we’ve got all the guests here for twelve o’clock, we are starting at twelve, so you had better be on your way down the stairs.”

JM:That is wonderful though that you felt that it was an important part of the house and the history to do that. I think that is really nice. It is a wonderful staircase. I always wanted to slide down the banister, but I never got up the courage to do that.

KR:Yes, it is a real nice staircase. The only thing we did that you didn’t do in the 1800’s is that we did get married on a Saturday. Typically you don’t get married on a Saturday; that would have been way


too advanced. Everybody all the family seemed to do fine with having it there, and they were all crowded in the parlor.

JM:It is rather a small parlor, but…

KR:We managed.

JM:Wonderful. Anything you want to say about the Holley- Williams House?

KR;I think it is too bad that they had to close it down; it is perfectly understandable, but there was so much history and so much original things that there’s definitely a missing piece now. When I was there, we talked about the contributions that Salisbury did to the community and to the way of life now, the Revolutionary War, and even as Maria was growing up the differences there that it’s now lost. I don’t think other people in the community know about it.

JM:They don’t realize that it had been in the same for generations, and that they kept everything. That in itself was unique; the 6,000 letters or however many there were, and the receipts and the letters that they copied that they kept. It was a wealthy of information that unfortunately is no longer available to us.

KR:They did a lot for the community; all of the people who lived there did quite a bit. A few of them moved out of the community and still did quite a bit.

JM:It is a shame that it closed. Civic activities other than the ambulance, what else do you do? Have you been on boards in the past?

KR:Right now I am on the board of the EMS Institute which does go with the ambulance. We do education for EMTs. I went on that because my uncle had started that organization so I thought a member of the family should be on there. That’s where we do one of our main focuses is doing an annual conference at the Hotchkiss School for all the EMTs in the area. We invite them from all over Connecticut, but it is mostly to cover New York and Connecticut. That is a local place to go for a conference.

JM:It is a good central facility.

KR:Yes, and Hotchkiss has been gracious enough to let us use that during their spring break so we have a very nice facility.

JM:But you also cover Hotchkiss if there is any kind of medical emergency. Is there anything that you would like to add?

KR:Previously to getting involved with the ambulance, I was involved with Women’s Support Service, and I was a hot line counselor for that. Then I was asked to be on the board. I was President of the board for a while.

JM:Did you work with Dick Taber on that? (See file # 64/76 Rev. Taber)9.

KR:No, I did not.

JM:I just finished an interview with him.

KR:I was on the board when they stared Trade Secrets. We had it up at Wake Robin. The harder part about that is that we would have to have people park in the ball field and downtown and shuttle people up because there really wasn’t parking up there. But we had that figured out. I roped Lakeville Fire Department to help with the parking and then Elaine La Roche was gracious enough to have it at her place.

JM:Bunny Williams had it for a couple of years, too.

KR:Yes, she had it and then I think we went to Wake Robin.

JM:Then you went to Elaine La Roche.

KR:So I was on the board, I think I was president when we went to Elaine La Roche.

JM:It is a pretty impressive fund raiser, and a lot of work goes into that. It is a wonderful organization, but it is an awful lot of work to put that together.

KR:Gardening is not my forte, but I definitely knew how much work went into it. Don’t ask me about all the plants and gardens, and things like that. Just tell me what you need moved where.

JM:You are good with logistics.

KR:At the moment I am not with WSS just due to the fact that I put more commitment into the ambulance and because of my job I can’t really be available to be counted on. I have to be on call.

JM:Tell me a little bit about the 911 dispatching job that you do.

KR:I answer the phone 911 calls coordinate 20 towns. We just took on Torrington a couple of years ago.

JM:You told me you had a sort of a three day off, three day on…

KR:We work 2 days on then 2 days off and then we work three days over the weekend. We work a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Then we get 2 days off, work 2 days, and the next weekend we have the Friday, Saturday, Sunday off.

JM:What are your hours?

KR:We work a 12 hour shift. 6 to 6

JM:Do you sometimes do the night shift, and sometimes the day shift?


KR:I’m considered a daytime dispatcher. The company has the right to order me in for an overnight shift. So on my two days off I could be ordered in for that overnight; I prefer not to do that because my body has now adjusted to 6 in the morning to 6 at night. It does do a number on you when you are staying up because doing to work at 6 in the morning means that I have to get up at 4, 3:30 to 4 depending if I have to wash my hair before I go to work. Even in the closed in area where people don’t see you, it is not like you need to have your hair prissied up and makeup on. But you still need to come across on the phone as professionals. So a lot of times you want to make sure are dress well so that you portray that over the phone.

JM;It has a lot to do with it. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you would like to add to this before we close?

KR:I got into dispatching from volunteering in the ambulance which was a total career change and so I tell people that if they are taking the EMT class,” If you have an interest in, there are different avenues that you can go to change your job or do something different or go in a different direction in life. It can open up a lot of doors.” Plus sometimes when you volunteer it will take you a different way, and that’s good.

JM:Perfect. Thank you so much Kaki.

KR:Thank you.