Eastern Region

of the



The main focus of the NCRC is development and maintenance of a national curriculum in cave rescue operations. It maintains a cadre of qualified cave rescue instructors, who help it deliver cave rescue educational programs at the national and regional levels, in a variety of formats.

The NCRC strives to maintain working relationships with organizations engaged in cave rescue, and to maintain a professional liaison on behalf of the NSS with federal, state, and local agencies possessing jurisdiction for cave emergencies.

It also tracks the persons trained under its programs and maintains inventories of specialized cave rescue equipment that might be needed in the event of an emergency. These lists are available to providers of cave rescue services, and may best be utilized in pre-planning activities.

Emergency Contact Information

If you have an emergency situation, first contact your local emergency services by dialing 911 on a phone.

After contacting 911, you should alert the Regional Coordinator of the Eastern Region of the National Cave Rescue Commission (ERNCRC) and advise them of the situation. This will allow a timely alerting of caver resources, who may be available to assist the local emergency services.

To assist us in helping you during a caving incident, it is strongly suggested that you fill in a CAVER INFORMATION SHEET, located below, and leave it with you Emergency Contact.

** Contact the Regional Coordinator at: eastern@ncrc.info **

Accident Reports

American Caving Accidents (ACA) is the journal of record for accident and safety incident reports from the North American caving community and is published by the National Speleological Society. It is a great resource for cavers and rescuers.

Each issue of the ACA includes incident summaries based on collected information, with comments, analyses, editorials and articles on caving safety and accident prevention. Readers of the ACA learn from shared experiences of others and can become safer cavers.

The ACA is a teaching tool. It is a way for us to pass on to new cavers the collective experience and wisdom of the community.

Eastern Region cave accidents and incidents from 1961-2005 can be found here.




The Eastern Region of the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC) covers the states of Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. As a percentage of cavers, it is the largest of all the NCRC regions with approximately 1/3 of all active cavers and over 10,000 known caves.

The Region is one of 10 in the U.S. The others are the Caribbean, Central, Northeastern, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, South Central, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western regions. The National Cave Rescue Commission received its charter from the National Speleological Society (NSS) in 1979, and serves as the Society’s representative on issues of cave rescue training and operations. It is a volunteer group developed primarily to train and track cave rescue resources throughout the United States. 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. The NCRC is a component of the Department of the Administrative Vice-President of the NSS.

Regional Events

Orientation to Cave Rescue

Oct. 9-11, 2020

Martinsburg,West Virginia

OCR is a two-day introduction to the skills, management and operations of the cave rescue. During this intensive seminar, instructors teach skills and concepts to successfully preform a rescue. The first day is classroom and exercises. The second day you will put the newly acquired skills to the test in a mock rescue.

National Training

2020 National Weeklong Seminar

June 12 - 20, 2020

Camp Pinnacle in Voorheesville, N.Y.

This seminar consists of extensive fieldwork and classroom instruction in all phases of cave rescue. Training topics include underground environment, vertical rescue, hauling systems, extrication techniques, medical management, communication systems, and the organization and management of cave rescue operations. On the final day of training, the students are in charge of a large-scale mock rescue.

Course fee is $730 before April 30, 2020.

WNS Gear Decontamination

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that affects hibernating bats. It is currently in 28 states and seven bat species have been confirmed with WNS. Some species infected are seeing mortality rate of up to 98%.

Limited underground cave rescue training is available in the Eastern Region due to cave closures due to WNS in Virginia, West Virginia and the surrounding states.

Caving clothes and gear used within WNS-affected regions should not be taken outside of that region.

All participants and staff are required to comply with the Cleaning Procedures from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.



Course Information

Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR)

An introductory level program which consists of classroom and field work in all phases of 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.

Task Force Member (Level 1)

Consists of extensive training in all phases of cave rescue. 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.

Task Force Leader (Level 2)

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.

Vertical Specialist (Level 3)

Offers the student an opportunity to expand and refine their vertical rescue skills. Extensive field work in highlines, 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.

Specialist Wilderness EMT

Designed to train medical personnel in the application of their skills in the cave and wilderness setting. Students are encouraged to have previous SAR or Cave Rescue experience. Prior certification as an EMT or higher is a prerequisite for this course. WEMT expands on the student’s assessment, intervention, and stabilization skills. Operations in the cave environment are emphasized. This course meets the standards established by the Wilderness EMS Institute.

Team Operations and Field Exercises (TOFE)

The week-long course of hands-on field exercises through a verity 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 three-day introduction to cave rescue techniques that can be performed by a party of six or less 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.


Keeping people trained in cave safety and rescue.

When Underground: What To Do In An Emergency

So your on a caving trip and you or a member of your team becomes injured. In the minutes after this happens you must do several things to insure the safety of the injured and the team. The following information will help anyone who caves and should be known by the trip leader.

— Protect yourself first then your patient. Don't become a victim yourself.

— Ensure that you can obtain access to the injured person safely. Check for unsafe conditions before entering an accident site and correct all dangerous conditions.

— Determine extent of injuries and stabilize the patient if you have the skill. Treat for hypothermia prevention.

— Determine if the person can walk/crawl out, can be assisted to walk/crawl out, or if you will need assistance to get the person out. If there is any chance of spinal injury do not move the patient accept to prevent further injury.

— If the injury is serious, use your own judgement. Begin to take notes about your patient. Pulse, respiration, and skin temperature are minimum, clearly time and date all data.

— If you need outside help, send for it or wait for your backup person to notify authorities. Remember that your backup person can only call for backup if they know exactly which cave you are at and when to expect your return from that cave.

— Inventory all equipment in your group to determine what is available; to help your patient survive, to aid your survival, and determine what may be needed from the outside. Get the information to the surface.

— When possible two people should be sent out for help, they should leave as much food and water and dry clothing as possible for the people that remain with the patient. They should carry a copy of all notes concerning patient condition and location. Include information about your needs as well as what you have on site to treat the patient with. Your messengers need to know emergency telephone numbers, have keys to vehicles, and have knowledge and experience to get out safely.

Let Someone Know Before You Cave

When caving, let someone know when and where you are going. To make it easier for you, the Eastern Region of the NCRC, in cooperation with the Battlefield Area Troglodyte Society, have developed a Caver Alert Information Sheet (CAIS). Please fill it out and leave with your Emergency Contact before you cave. Your Emergency Contact should be someone reliable who is not going on the trip. Once you have exited the cave, contact your Emergency Contact and tell them you're out and safe. If they don’t hear from you by the time listed on your CAIS, they should follow the instructions on the sheet. For your convenience, this is a fillable form that allows you to save your personal information for future caving trips. Cave Softly!

Contact Us

National Coordinator

Anmar Mirza
Email: national@ncrc.com

Regional Coordinator

Tony Smith
Email: eastern@ncrc.info


Staff Resources

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