Swift water rescue teams train on St. Joseph River

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- On Wednesday 12 men from the fire department on Michigan Street that make up one of the three swift water rescue teams met along the St. Joseph River for their monthly training.

"Once a month we do a training as a team," said Captain Chad Ammerman, South Bend Fire Department Engine 1 Team Commander. "This is to simulate high flow of water and other hazards or obstacles downstream that we are going to be working."

At the training site, there wasn't a high flow of water. River levels are actually low in comparison with years past.

That made it difficult to avoid damaging the propellers on rescue boats.

"We cannot use a boat in that area so we set up a static line across the river that's very stable and that becomes our movable control point," said Ammerman.

Ammerman says the St. Joseph River is usually ideal and attracts swift water rescuers from all over the country.

"South Bend actually conducts an international school for river rescue. We have unique features here with the East Race and our dam being a relatively safe one," said Ammerman.

Their training attracted onlookers.

"We like people to come out and see what we're doing what we like talking to them and we love their questions," said Ammerman.

The low river level made the swift water rescue a lot less swift, but a lot safer.

The St. Joseph River is a top training spot for swift water rescue. People from all over the country come here to get certified in swift water rescue. The program is booked throughout the entire year.

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