U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Federal Emergency Management Agency

Resource: Cave Search and Rescue Team
Category: Search and Rescue (ESF #9)
Kind: Team
Minimum Capabilities (Component) Minimum Capabilities
(Metric)
Type I Type II Type III Type IV Other

Team

Personnel

Field team leader; Members; Medical specialist

Field team leader; Field team members; Medical specialist

Field team leader; Field team members; Medical specialist

Field team leader; Field team members

Personnel Training Cave Training

Same as Type II, plus:
Proficiency in cave and surface search; Proficiency in high-and low-angle technical rescues and evacuations from dry, wet, and multidrop caves

Same as Type III, plus:
Proficiency in vertical environments greater than 100 feet in depth; Ability to safely traverse multidrop caves; Ability to rapidly ascend a rope next to a litter during a litter raise

Same as Type IV, plus:
Ability to carry additional rescue-related equipment to and through the cave

Basic understanding of the cave environment, including regional differences in ambient cave temperature, normal hazards such as risk of flooding, hypothermia, and potential changes in cave environment because of seasonal variations and outside weather; Proficiency in crawling, climbing and moving over uneven surfaces and breakdown areas covered in mud, sand, or water; Familiarity with chimneying, bridging, and other basic climbing techniques used in moving through caves; Ability to move comfortably and efficiently in small spaces; Ability to rappel and ascend 66’ of static line using standard single rope techniques; Proficiency in changing over from ascent to rappel and rappel to ascent; Ability to carry personal equipment to and through the cave; Ability to identify fragile cave environments and take measures to protect them; Ability to maintain primary light sources

 
Navigation Training

Same as Type II

Same as Type III, plus:
Proficiency in back-country navigation and route finding with a map and compass, use of GPS and UTM coordinate system

Same as Type IV, plus:
Knowledge of common symbols present on cave maps; Proficiency in reading cave maps; Ability to use topographic maps to locate caves

Familiar with cave maps and topographic maps  
Basic Training

Same as Type II, plus; Ability to plan, organize, and direct cave rescue and search missions using ICS; Experience with ICS Unified Command

Same as Type III, plus: Ability to direct activities according to ICS; Technical proficiency in single person rope rescue techniques; Proficiency in crack and crevice rescue; Proficiency in creating load distributing and artificial anchors in-cave

Same as Type IV, plus: Capable of operating within ICS; Proficiency in edge tending for the vertical environment; Proficiency in preparing and rigging basket and flexible litters for haul and lower operations; Proficiency in patient packaging for extrication; Familiarity with the basic techniques for crack and crevice rescue; Ability to improvise patient packaging

Familiarity with basic cave search techniques; Familiarity with the NIIMS ICS of incident management; Proficiency in establishing simple anchors and fixing lines for personal rappels and ascents; Awareness of the psychological and physical patient considerations in rescue extrications of long duration; Proficiency in basic in-cave litter movement techniques; Ability to assist in patient packaging for extrication; Specialized training required to safely and appropriately use communication and technical rescue equipment

 
Technical Training

Same as Type II, plus:
Proficiency in the use, placement, and analysis of mechanical anchors and anchor systems; Proficiency in use of highlines and guiding lines; Proficiency in the organization and direction of technical cave rescue searches and rescues;

For regions/caves with swiftwater:
Proficiency in working in and around moving water underground; Swiftwater/flatwater technician

For regions/caves with bad air:
Proficiency in the use of a 3-gas monitor (oxygen, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide) and ability to understand its output

Same as Type III, plus:
Understanding of the mechanical forces involved in technical rescue systems; Proficiency in the selection and setup of rescue anchor systems; Proficiency at estimating component and system load ratios and assessing safety factors; Ability to rig and operate simple and compound 4:1, 6:1, and 9:1 mechanical advantage systems; Proficiency in rigging and use of counterbalance systems; Proficiency in technical litter evacuations and transport including litter raises and lowers on breakdown, in free-fall and other vertical environments, in narrow or waterfall situations, and in multidrop caves

Same as Type IV, plus:
Proficiency in tying common knots and knowledge of their applications and strength efficiencies; Proficiency in establishing simple anchors for haul and lower systems; Ability to establish 2:1 and 3:1 haul systems, fixed brake lowering systems, and belay systems; Familiarity with basic search techniques and nomenclature; Ability to maintain scene integrity in case of crime; Proficiency in establishing and operating in-cave wired communications systems; Ability to operate a handheld radio; Proficiency in choosing appropriate in-cave litter movement techniques

Ability to serve as a member of a haul or lower team and familiarity of appropriate commands; Ability to serve as a member of an evacuation team; Other skills or abilities as identified by the team’s operations leader

 
Survival Training Same as Type III Same as Type III

Same as Type IV, plus:
Experience in wet and vertical caves

Operational proficiency in the cave environment for the region  
Medical Specialist Training National Standard EMT-B, with BTLS or PHTLS National Standard EMT-B, or advanced wilderness first responder; BTLS Same as Type IV Basic First Aid/CPR  
Team Sustained Operations 48 hours or more 36 hours 24 hours 24 hours  
Team Search and Rescue Capabilities Same as Type II with experience complex rescue environments as appropriate for region of activity Same as Type III with experience in wet and vertical caves and crack/crevice situations Same as Type IV Trained cave rescue and cave search personnel with experience in relatively dry caves with moderate vertical situations  
Team Equipment Supplies and Materials

Same as Type III, plus:
Ability to support more than 2 patients at 2 separate incidents; Sufficient rope and hardware to support complex rigging, multiple drops, highline, etc.

In regions/caves with swiftwater:
Appropriate floatation equipment for patient(s) and other necessary swiftwater-specific rigging equipment
In regions/caves with bad air: 3-gas monitors

Same as Type III, plus:
Ability to respond to two in-cave patients simultaneously

Same as Type IV

Harnesses; Helmets; Basic hardware (including:
7/16 or .5” static kernmantle rope, webbing, pulleys, carabiners, lowering devices, etc.); Field telephones and wire; Radio communications on a common frequency; Patient packaging materials; Litters appropriate for situation; Entrance control materials; Edge protection

 
Personal Equipment Supplies and materials

Same as Type II, plus:
Food for 48 hours

In regions/caves with swiftwater:
Appropriate swiftwater gear, PFD, personal throwbags, and waterproof light sources

Same as Type III, plus:
Food for 36 hours

Same as Type IV, plus:
Wetsuit where appropriate

Personal protective equipment including:
Footwear, underwear, and outerwear suited to the particular cave environment; Sewn seat harness; Personal descending and ascending equipment with 2 points of attachment above the waist; Helmet (with 3- or 4-point chinstrap suspension system); Gloves with leather palms; 3 independent sources of light, each capable of exiting the cave; 2 of which must be helmet-mountable; Batteries (carbide if appropriate); Quantity of water appropriate for the conditions; Food for 24 hours; Knife/multitool; Personal first aid kit; Waterproof pen/pencil and paper; Appropriate pack to carry personal gear ; food for 24 hours

 
Medical Equipment Supplies and Materials As appropriate for level of training, as applied in wilderness/cave environment and meeting local protocols and requirements As appropriate for level of training, as applied in wilderness/cave environment and meeting local protocols and requirements As appropriate for level of training, as applied in wilderness/cave environment and meeting local protocols and requirements As appropriate for level of training, as applied in wilderness/cave environment and meeting local protocols and requirements  

Comments:



National Mutual Aid & Resource Management Initiative
Search and Rescue