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Cave Rescue

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 rescue equipment.

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.


Eastern Region of the National Cave Rescue Commission (ER-NCRC)
(Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina,
Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia)


Virginia Department of Emergency Management - (804) 674-2400

See the ER-NCRC web site for additional emergency contact information in the Eastern Region (United States)

For other areas in the United States contact the NCRC Regional Coordinator 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!

Other Resources

National Cave rescue Commission logo The National Speleological Society has chartered the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC) 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 what to do if an injury occurs while caving that provides a good checklist on how to handle yourself in an emergency.

Book cover: On Call 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 NSS Bookstore and from most of the speleo vendors .

Book cover: Life on a Line Another interesting reference is "Life on a Line" by Dr. D. F. Merchant, an e-book available free on line 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.

The Self Rescue Group 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.

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  Copyright 2002-2004, Bob Robins
  Last Updated: August 9, 2005