The Arkansas City Fire-EMS Department, located at 115 South D St., is one of the quietest buildings in Arkansas City.
The heaviest traffic near to the building comes from the adjacent BNSF Railroad.
Fire-EMS staff have a response time that hovers around four minutes for locations in the city. In the county, it can be upwards of 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon how far out the emergency is.
First responders clear the station in less than 60 seconds when emergency calls come in.
Due to the size of the station, everyone is cross-trained to do both firefighting and emergency medical service calls.
Each firefighter has skills that are used to maintain the functionality of the station, For example, Lt. Kyle Riedl lends his talents as a mechanic to keeping parts of the department’s fleet in working condition.
“The requirements today on fire-EMS departments are tremendous. You’ve got to be a jack of all trades and master of them, too,” said Fire Chief Bobby Wolfe.
The department has more than 120 total years of experience in the fire station.
“Most are real young, but what they lack in experience, they make up for in gusto,” Wolfe said.
Between just him and EMS Director Jeri Smith, there is 74 years of experience.
Fire Chief Bobby Wolfe
Wolfe originally wanted to work with cattle, but the cattle market was bad when he graduated from high school.
He said a friend convinced him to go to school to get his EMT training. “It’s the best profession in the world,” Wolfe said.
In 1981, when he started his career, he served in Wichita.
Altogether, he spent 31 years in Wichita and last was stationed in downtown Wichita as a battalion chief.
He came to Arkansas City in August 2012.
“I love it here. I’ve got great co-workers, I’ve got a great boss and I like the community,” Wolfe said.
EMS Director Jeri Smith
Smith has had a varied career, starting in 1983 as a hospital technician in Oklahoma.
Since that time, she has served in many areas in Kansas and Oklahoma.
Smith was part of the rescue teams at the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and lived in Greensburg when a tornado all but leveled the entire town in 2007.
“I stumbled into it,” she said of her chosen profession. “I was working in a hospital and rode out with an ambulance, and I liked it … I decided I wanted to do that.
“You either love it or you don’t.”
Smith came to Ark City in November 2010 and became the director of EMS in January 2011.
“This is my home. I have roots here. I love Ark City,” she said.