As first responders to fires, safety issues, medical emergencies and disasters, Bondurant Emergency Services and Polk County Deputies work hand in hand to protect the lives and property of Bondurant residents.
The fire department and Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
Chief Aaron Kreuder joined the volunteer fire department in 2002, serving as chief for the past eight years. Assisting him on the leadership team are Deputy Chief Chris Bogaards (director of Emergency Medical Services) and Deputy Chief Chris Poulson (director of Fire and Rescue). Currently there are 27 members on the operational roster: 23 respond to emergencies and four serve in support roles.
Approximately seven years ago, the department began requiring all recruits to pass both the Firefighter I and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certifications before coming onboard, making members equally equipped to respond to fire and EMS calls.
“Those are national certifications set forth by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), the governing body for fire protection,” Bogaards says. “We have the same requirements as the New York Fire Department, Chicago, L.A., and all the way down to little Bondurant.”
Members are paid on-call, receiving $8 per call. It’s the same payment for a 20-hour call as a two-hour call. While there are designated shifts that rotate every six days, every member responds to every call whenever possible.
“Since we are paid on-call, we all have full-time jobs,” Kreuder says. “From 6 a.m. through 6 p.m., Monday-Friday, we have an agreement with Altoona Fire that they cover us.”
From Jan. 1, 2014, to Sept. 1, Bondurant Emergency Services responded to 267 calls. While the Bondurant ambulance responds to every fire, rescue and EMS call in a 50-square-mile service area, the fire truck doesn’t necessarily respond to every EMS call.
The Emergency Services building, constructed in 2009, houses the vehicle fleet: two ALS equipped ambulances, one rescue engine, two pumper/tankers, one quick attack brush truck, a 75-foot aerial ladder truck, two first response vehicles, one off-road rescue vehicle, a rescue boat and a mobile training/support unit (a donated school bus).
“Our goal is to put a television and DVD player in the bus to show videos on fire safety and fire prevention,” says Kreuder. “Kids are familiar with school buses, so it’s a way to tie in education and make it fun.”
Kreuder explains that the reason they purchased the aerial truck last December was for its capability to send an elevated water stream to the center of large buildings.
“No, I haven’t lost my mind,” Kreuder states. “I know there are only two-story buildings in Bondurant. I get that, but the Insurance Services Office (ISO) dictates how much water flow is required per community.”
“The ratings have a direct tie to insurance rates for residents and business owners,” Bogaards adds. “To maintain the same ISO rating for Bondurant, we had to purchase that truck.”
When members aren’t busy responding to emergencies, you might find them completing bi-monthly four-hour training sessions. One session typically focuses on fire and rescue and the other on EMS. In 2013, the department logged 1,587 training hours, including simulated water and grain bin rescues, auto extractions, rescues of children on a school bus, actual controlled burns, EMS and hazardous materials training.
For the past five years, Bondurant has partnered with Des Moines Area Community College to train area firefighters. This mutually beneficial partnership is grant funded.
“They do all the classroom training for Firefighter I and 2, Driver Operation Pumper and HAZMAT,” Kreuder says. “We do all the hands-on stuff here. Basically, for DMACC to go out and hold a true Firefighter 1 and 2 class, the cost would be astronomical. They’d need to buy all the trucks and equipment.”
When it comes to offering advice to the citizens of Bondurant, Kreuder recommends not to hesitate when calling 9-1-1.
“A lot of times, we’ll show up at houses at 2 in the morning, and people feel terrible because their (carbon monoxide) detector is going off,” says Kreuder. “I’d much rather people called than assumed everything was OK.”
Polk County Sheriff’s Office
For the past 21 years, Bondurant has contracted with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) for law enforcement. Initially, the contract didn’t include 24-hour, seven-day-a-week coverage, but that changed in 2005. The contract is reviewed at least every three years.
Cost is often a factor when a city determines whether or not to contract for law enforcement services. By partnering with a larger agency, the city doesn’t incur the full cost for vehicles, equipment, training, salaries and benefits. Bondurant isn’t the only community in Polk County that contracts for law enforcement. Grimes receives full-time protection, and Alleman and Elkhart contract for a specific amount of time each week.
“Full-time doesn’t mean they get one deputy and that’s it,” PCSO Lieutenant Jana Abens says. “They get whatever they need to take care of whatever incident is going on. We also have resources like detectives, partners in the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force, deputies and supervisors, including the chief of patrol, who can be pulled in as needed.”
Officers work nine-hour shifts, which overlap one hour. The shifts run from 6 a.m. – 3 p.m., 2-11 p.m. and 10 p.m. – 7 a.m. The officers assigned to Bondurant are determined through a bid process based on seniority.
On a typical day, officers perform routine traffic stops, address crimes, respond to suspicious activities, patrol the area and respond to all area emergency services calls.
The top five law enforcement calls per category for 2013 were: 1,297 traffic-related calls, 210 calls for assistance, 156 for suspicious activity and 126 animal-related calls. The statistics from Jan. 1, 2014, through July 31 are tracking similarly to 2013’s figures.
“Sometimes suspicious activity is called in by a resident, and sometimes it’s noticed by a deputy,” Abens says. “One example happened last week. We had a deputy who has worked the Bondurant area for a number of years, and he knows the people. As he was helping a resident look for her dog, he noticed two males walking through backyards about 5 in the afternoon. He thought that was unusual. He kept an eye on them. They headed to Casey’s on Hubbell. He approached them, and one had a warrant. He ended up arresting them both.”
In addition to the law enforcement contracted by the city, the Bondurant schools contract separately with PCSO for a school resource officer who serves full-time during the school year and as a community relations deputy during the summer months.
When it comes to keeping the officers’ skills sharp, they each receive extensive hands-on and computer training, which includes testing on Tasers, pepper spray, technological improvements, legislative updates, natural disasters, CPR and first aid, firearms and more.
“Annually, we have to have a certain number of hours of firearms training mandated by the state,” says Abens. “We have to qualify and get a certain score when we shoot on the range.”
Like Kreuder, Abens encourages residents to contact law enforcement without hesitation.
“If there is anything that someone needs, they should call 9-1-1 or the 24 hour non-emergency number at 286-3333,” she says. “It is Sheriff McCarthy’s goal to make sure we’re here to provide all types of law enforcement services based on the community’s needs.”
“We have a tremendous working relationship with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office,” she says. “They have our backs, and we have theirs.”
Chief of Patrol Kevin Schnieder attends monthly Bondurant City Council meetings, which allows him to gauge what is happening in the community, relay pertinent law enforcement information and answers residents’ questions.
“That’s a direct line of communication,” Abens states. “People can go straight to the chief. There are no in-betweens there.”
Community relations is also paramount for the Bondurant Emergency Services team. They attend block parties, providing fire education and opportunities for residents to get up close and personal with the various emergency vehicles. They also open the fire station doors for tours, pancake breakfasts, open houses and other fundraisers, which are often organized by the Association, a team of dedicated volunteers who support and raise money for Bondurant Emergency Services.
“The big thing is that this is the community’s fire station,” Bogaards states. “Right outside in the bays, an entire wall is designated as the Community Signature Wall. We ask everyone who comes into the station to grab a Sharpie and write their name on the wall. It keeps us focused on what we are truly here for.”