Cave/Cliff Rescue Unit

CHCRS boasts a highly regarded, nationally recognized cave rescue team that has executed cave rescues across the Southeastern United States since the late 1950’s. The team is comprised of nearly 40 skilled rescuers trained in highly specialized techniques developed specifically for the difficult and demanding conditions encountered underground. Members are required to be self-sufficient underground for as long as 24 hours without support from the surface or contact from Command. Members are also required to be proficient in Single Rope Technique and possess an intimate knowledge of rope systems. In addition to cave rescue, the team also executes technical rope rescues in any environment requiring high angle rescue techniques including cliffs, gorges, scree slopes and structures.

The Cave/Cliff Unit has three response vehicles equipped with over 8,000 feet of rope, five hardware bags stocked with equipment used for building rope systems with mechanical advantage and the necessary tools to modify a cave during a rescue. In addition, these vehicles are
equipped with all of the most sophisticated patient packaging, immobilization and transport equipment, including a mobile heart monitor, warm air inhalator and airway kit.

The Cave/Cliff Unit also boasts a host of skilled medical professionals capable of providing ALS care to trauma patients under the direction of Dr. David Wharton M.D.  CHCRS medics have provided advanced wilderness medical intervention for over three decades and have been credited with saving countless lives both above and below ground. CHCRS’s ability to provide ALS medical care deep inside a cave is a service unique to the Cave/Cliff Unit and sets our standard of care apart from any other cave rescue team in the United States.

Rehabilitation Services

CHCRS maintains two mobile rehab vehicles capable of supporting large scale rescue operations for extended periods with food, water, electricity and other services. The Mobile Rehab Unit is vital to keeping rescue personnel hydrated and fed during extended rescues, fires, searches and police investigations. Equipped with fans, tents, generators and appliances; these vehicles are outfitted to support rescue operations in remote locations. The Mobile Rehab Unit responds anywhere in the Tri-State area at the request of any agency requiring our services.

Mobile Air Replacement

The squad owns a highly sophisticated Mobile Air Unit capable of providing breathable air replacement and cascade systems to firefighters and HAZmat responders. The Mobile Air Unit is a vital resource to responders during extended structure fires, wildfires or industrial accidents. Operators are able to quickly refill air cylinders on-site and maintain an available supply of breathable air to responders for the duration of an event. 

Mobile Light Apparatus

The squad maintains a truck equipped with light towers and generators equipped to provide light to any scene for the duration of a rescue. This vehicle is critical on cave rescues, searches, police investigations and accidents where remote staging areas and command posts require light for personnel.

Off-Road Transportation

CHCRS maintains a fleet of ATVs and 4-wheel drives vehicles capable of moving personnel, gear and supplies deep into the wilderness and far beyond the reach of standard rescue apparatus. These vehicles are critical during cave rescues, wilderness searches and wildfires. Our ATVs are frequently used to quickly evacuate patients from deep in the wilderness to waiting ambulances and air evac.

Search and Rescue

The squad trains members in SAR techniques to allow CHCRS to provide assistance to other agencies in wilderness searches. SAR techniques are also used to execute grid searches for lost cavers in expansive cave systems found here in the Southeastern United States. Members are equipped with portable GPS, radios and satellite phones and are required to be self-sufficient for the duration of an event.

Medical Standby Services

CHCRS medical professionals volunteer their services to the community for a variety of events requiring medical personnel on standby. The squad routinely provides medical standby services to the Tennessee Valley Railroad, road races and charity events in the Chattanooga area. The CHCRS roster boasts multiple paramedics, over a dozen EMTs, trauma nurses, flight medics and an emergency room physician. Many of our members work at Erlanger Hospital, Hamilton County EMS, Lifeforce Air Evac and Skyridge Medical Center as full time medical professionals.