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Ames to become most dense SAFE Bar Network-certified city

Sam Petri
A pamphlet from the SAFE Bar Network during one of their bystander training sessions at London Underground in Downtown Ames on Jan. 30, 2024.

Ames will become the most dense SAFE Bar Network-certified city in the country after all the training sessions conclude, according to Darian Everding, a business development representative for the SAFE Bar Network. They held one of 13 Ames bystander trainings planned in January and February at London Underground on Tuesday.

The training covered definitions of words like consent, addressed things to notice and taught ways to interrupt and support. Everding said going through the training allows bartenders to “call back more quickly” the skills learned.

“There are a lot of potential sources of trauma for service industry staff. Ways that you can prevent trauma is by training your nervous system to respond during stressful situations with training that you have so that you can flow through that situation and not destroy yourself to bring this up,” Everding said.

During the training, the executive for the SAFE Bar Network Haleigh Harrold said that it is meant to be a “continuation of a conversation you’ve already started.”

“For a long time, we talked about active bystander skills as though there’s some kind of superpower. That’s bullshit; none of that’s true,” Harrold said. “You guys are already so good at active bystander skills, you call it customer service, and so we’re just gonna build on those skills you already have.”

Everding also said the bar is a place for all people to have a good time because it is cheaper to buy alcohol at the store and drink it at home.

“We’re holding a sacred responsibility to create a place where people are willing to pay that premium to be here,” Everding said. “We sling poison; that is part of it. We understand that it is a controlled substance that so many people enjoy with respect and some don’t have the ability to engage respectfully.”

Adam Baldus, a London Underground bartender of over a decade, said this training is better than the state-run Iowa Program for Alcohol Compliance Training (I-PACT) and hopes more people complete it.

“[The I-PACT training] is kind of like, second-grade classroom style. ‘A person walks into a bar and causes a problem. What do you do?’ And you’re like this is sort of helpful but not really,” Baldus said.

The 13 Ames bars participating in the SAFE Bar Training Network are:

  • The Mucky Duck Pub
  • Welch Ave. Station
  • The Blue Owl Bar
  • AJ’s Ultra Lounge
  • BNC Field House
  • Mickey’s Irish Pub
  • Thumbs
  • Mother’s Pub
  • Time Out
  • Café Beaudelaire
  • London Underground
  • Inside Golf and Games
  • Macubana

Everding said each bar’s training certificate lasts one year and any additional bars interested in participating can email [email protected] or call 515-493-2343.

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  • J

    Julia Sager | Jan 31, 2024 at 9:23 am

    This is terrific to hear. I hope all Ames bars will do this.

    I don’t frequent bars often, and am a light drinker. However, I know a girl that went to a bar with friends to drown her sorrows after a bad breakup. Her friend – who worked there – was planning to drive her home once she got off work, but she was sexually assaulted at about closing time by an acquaintance, triggering a flight response. She fled in her own vehicle. DUI, night in jail, cried uncontrollably for weeks, lost her license, her truck, and also her nerve. She’s had severe anxiety and PTSD ever since despite years of therapy. If only someone had stepped in to help….

  • M

    MDM | Jan 31, 2024 at 6:47 am

    This article would have been much more informative if it had at least one example of a recommended bystander intervention during a problematic scenario.