When a cave rescue is required, the first responders are likely
to be local rescue squads responding to a 911 call. Depending on
the nature of the rescue situation and the training and experience
of the local rescue personnel, additional rescue personnel specifically
trained in cave rescue techniques may be required along with specialized
In an emergency a person going for help should first call
911 and then have the local authorities call the number
below to obtain specialized cave rescue assistance.
For other areas in the United States contact the
for the Region you will be caving in.
Note: Find the number for the area you will be caving in
and carry it with you (write it inside your helmet or pack)
- you won't have a chance to look it up in an emergency!
The National Speleological Society has chartered the
National Cave Rescue Commission
to be its representative on cave rescue training and operations.
Composed of volunteers, "the NCRC is specifically NOT a functional
cave rescue team, rather it provides training and development opportunities
for persons and organizations engaged in cave rescue activities.
Thus, while many of the persons associated with the NCRC perform
rescues, they do this as members of their local rescue squads,
civil defense units, or cave rescue groups." (
About the National
Cave Rescue Commission
The NCRC has a number of regional groups that provide cave rescue
training and rescue coordination support in various parts of the
country. One example is the
Eastern Region of the National
Cave Rescue Commission
(ER-NCRC) which serves Delaware, New Jersey (southern), Maryland,
North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The
ER-NCRC offers some advice on
to do if an injury occurs while caving
that provides a good checklist on how to handle yourself in an
The NSS has published "On Call" which is "designed
to bring together under one cover the knowledge and experiences
accumulated by cave rescuers during 50 years of rescue in the caves
of Americas. It is intended to serve as a comprehensive reference
for those interested in cave rescue. It may also be useful as a
field guide for rescue squads and Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel
who are occasionally called upon to work within a cave." This
book is available from the
and from most of the
Another interesting reference is "Life on a Line" by
Dr. D. F. Merchant, an e-book
available free on
as a series of three volumes in PDF format. This book describes
itself as "a manual of modern cave rescue ropework techniques" and
provides a lot of useful information on rigging techniques in general,
with an emphasis on rescue rigging. Written by an experienced caver
and cave rescue rigger in the United Kingdom, it is an excellent
reference for US cavers and rescuers as well.
is another resource that, as the name implies, seeks to help cavers
be prepared to handle routine situations and respond to cave rescue
situations by assessing and stabilizing the patient and, in some
cases, beginning an evacuation while a rescue is being organized.
It's doesn't look like it's been maintained in a while, but there
are still some interesting articles. The site includes a reading
room with additional resources for those interested in learning
more about how to prepare themselves.