The Indiana River Rescue School (IRRS) was formed in 1983 through cooperative efforts of the South Bend Parks & Recreation Dept., the Indiana Dept. Of Natural Resources, South Bend Fire Dept., South Bend Police Dept. and the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources. Based in downtown South Bend, IN., the IRRS follows the founding principles of water rescue, as taught by ODNR in it’s breakthrough 1979 program. The 5 day school includes extensive field training on the St. Joseph River and it’s unique “L” shaped dam, and the East Race Waterway. The East Race Waterway is a 2000’ run which winds through the heart of the city. It has been the site of many U.S. Olympic trials and World Class kayak events. It allows for realistic but controlled training in river rescue, what is now formally known as the premier training ground for “Swiftwater rescue”.
The IRRS is now administered by the South Bend Fire Department under the direction of Captain Bob Means. The majority of instructors are comprised of South Bend Firefighters, IDNR Conservation Officers , Niles Twp. (Michigan), Elkhart Fire & Mishawaka fire depts. During the last 22 years over 2000 students from throughout the US and South America have been trained by the IRRS. With the excellent location of the school’s classroom and training sites, an emphasis is put on “hands on” training with a minimum of downtime for travel.