Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR)

An introductory level 2-3 day program which consists of classroom and field work in all phases of horizontal cave rescue including: underground environment, extrication techniques, communication systems, medical management, and organization and management of cave rescue. The basic orientation course material is presented for students who typically include cavers, emergency services personnel, and rescue management personnel. An all-day mock rescue is usually included.

Level 1 - Task Force Member

A week-long class that consists of extensive training in all phases of cave rescue, including vertical litter movement. Students will be instructed in incident command systems, basic medical procedures, mechanical advantage systems, cave environment, communications, litter rigging and transport, and single rope techniques. By the conclusion of this course the student should be well prepared to serve as a team member in most rescue situations.

Level 2 - Task Force Leader

This week-long class takes over where Task Force Member concluded. Task Force Member is a prerequisite for participation in Task Force Leader Level 2, and students are expected to have reviewed and practiced their Level 1 skills prior to the beginning of Level 2. Students will receive more advanced training in many of the disciplines covered in Level 1 training. In addition, students will have an opportunity to develop and enhance their leadership and management skills.

Level 3 - Vertical Specialist

This week-long class offers the student an opportunity to expand and refine their vertical rescue skills. Extensive field work in mechanical advantage systems, rebelays, and non-traditional vertical systems, plus water problems and Incident Command activities. Task Force Leader Level 2 is a prerequisite for Specialist Level 3 Vertical.

Team Operations and Field Exercises (TOFE)

The week-long course of hands-on field exercises through a variety of rescue scenarios in cave and cliff environments. Participants in TOFE must have successfully completed an NCRC Level 2 or higher course within the past four years. This course provides cave rescuers the opportunity to acquire more practical problem-solving exercises.

Small Party Assisted Rescue (SPAR)

The seminar is an intensive 3-6 day introduction to cave rescue techniques that can be performed by a party of six or fewer persons, using minimal gear normally carried on caving trips. This course teaches students how to handle most problems that arise while caving, including basic medical skills, moving patients through obstacles, helping persons who are stuck on rope, building and operating haul and lower systems, and how to prepare for and prevent problems with limited equipment and personnel.

Other Training

  • Check out the Virtual Topics in Cave Rescue series on the NSS YouTube channel.
  • Take a wilderness first aid, wilderness first responder, or emergency medical technician (EMT) class. We always need more medically trained people on cave rescues, plus it helps keep the people you cave with safer, as well as yourself.
  • We use cave rescue management based on the Incident Command System (ICS) to run cave rescues. If you haven’t already taken ICS classes, check out these free class on the FEMA website