How to survive falling in the St. Joseph river - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

How to survive falling in the St. Joseph river

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The South Bend Fire Department swiftwater rescue team runs river call drills every month The South Bend Fire Department swiftwater rescue team runs river call drills every month
It's been a tragic summer so far on the St. Joseph River. There have been a number of rescues and a recent drowning. Twenty-five-year-old Yolanda Anderson's body was found a week ago, after an exhaustive search for the South Bend mother of three.

The South Bend Fire Department swift water rescue team runs water rescue drills every month. That includes jumping into the fast current of St. Joseph river, performing a boat rescue and a self-rescue. Each firefighter must complete six hours every month - even in January.

Although recent water rescues have been high profile, the fire department says this summer is average in terms of the number of river calls. The team responded to about 20 calls last year. So far, they've had 8 calls this year.   

But in case no one is around to call for help, firefighters want you to know what to do if you get caught in the current.

They say you should get on your back immediately. Point your feet downstream and up out of the water.

"At that point you can ferry yourself with your arms," said firefighter Brent Vanbruaene. "Left or right, pointing your head in the direction you want to travel, to try to stay away from any obstacles in the water."

If you're panicking and floating along the river, it might be tempting to grab a tree or a rock. But rescuers say that can make things a whole lot worse.

"If you try to grab a hold of it," said Capt. Randy Newman. "That water is gonna push on you, and there's a pretty good chance it's gonna push you right under."

 Firefighters say you should wait until your feet can touch the ground before you try to swim to shore.

"It's not a pool," said firefighter Bobby Davis. "It's a fast-moving water. Respect the water."

Always bring a friend with you to the river. That way someone can call 9-1-1 if you fall in.
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