First Responders Conduct Swift Water Rescue Training in Ind.
Sept. 20—SOUTH BEND—Footage of first responders using boats to rescue people from rivers swollen by the rains that came with hurricanes Harvey and Irma filled television screens in recent weeks.
And while the South Bend area has never seen that level of flooding, the city does have the St. Joseph River, as well as the water rapids of the East Race Waterway, and that provides river rescuers from around the nation the chance to hone their skills here. That is exactly what two dozen river rescuers were doing on Tuesday when they put inflatable boats and personal watercraft in the river at the Notre Dame Boathouse just southeast of Howard Park.
Jeremy Edmonds, a firefighter and spokesman for the Rescue Instructors Group, said that Tuesday's hands-on-training involved 23 river rescuers who conducted training in advance of the International Association of Water Rescuers Professionals conference that will run today through Saturday at the Century Center and the nearby East Race.
Edmonds said that it is timely that the conference begins a few days after the two hurricanes caused massive damage and flooding in Texas and Florida.
"As a matter of fact we were concerned up until the last minute that we might not be able to do the class because a lot of the instructional team was actually deployed to Harvey and Irma," Edmonds said. "A lot of the first responders who are here today could have been called out and deployed to help."
Edmonds said that South Bend has become a frequent host of the annual conference.
"The benefit to having the East Race is that we are familiar with the area, and we have a lot of support from the South Bend Fire Department and the Indiana Rescue School," Edmonds said. "This is a known area where we can build different scenarios for the participants."