Since first creating a five year plan back in 2013, the Van Meter Public Safety Department has determined a need for a slide in unit for their Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV). However, with majority of their funds coming from contracts with local townships, the Van Meter Public Safety Department has often relied on local grants to help supplement any additional needs the operating budget is unable to afford.

“This year we identified certain things that we have to have done such as tires on our vehicles. So, the grants kind of supplement the things we can’t afford to out-right do but want to get done,” Van Meter Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Bill Daggett said.

Daggett recounted a time when a resident had rolled a four wheeler into a creek near their property. In order to bring the resident to safety, the fire and rescue team had to drive up a rutted trail with the assistant fire chief sitting on the back to help the resident. With the UTV currently set up to fight fires only, it was a struggle for the team to safely extricate the resident from the property.

With the help of a $3,000 grant from the Dallas County Foundation, the Van Meter Fire Department will be able to purchase a new skid unit to better help residents in need of similar rescues.

“Assistant Chief Jermey Feldman was a huge driving force behind the need for this equipment,” Daggett said. “We can take it out and fight wildland fires or we can take it out to rescue individuals. We have a trailer, so it can be hauled anywhere we need to take it.”

Daggett explained that the new skid unit will slide into the UTV and lock down. The left side of the unit will contain a hose reel and is set up to fight wildland fires while the right side is set up for transport. The unit also has storage beneath the right side where medical supplies can be stored.

Daggett also noted that the skid unit is a midline version that costs just under $7,000. With the $3,000 grant received from the Dallas County Foundation, the fire department will also need funds from either the City of Van Meter and the nonprofit fire department association.

“The foundation support was extremely important because there is no way we would have been able to come up with the other three grand,” Daggett said, “It’s extremely essential that we had it. If we didn’t have it, we couldn’t have added it to the department right now.”