All members of cave rescue teams in the British Isles are unpaid volunteers.

Recruitment of team members to cave rescue varies amongst the individual teams. Some teams operate through an individual membership basis, whilst other teams have local caving clubs forming the membership of the rescue team.

Operational members, be it through individual membership or caving club based, will be experienced cavers. Often they will need to use their own underground caving equipment (including caving lights) although the teams will supply specialist rescue equipment.

Note: Cave rescue teams are NOT in the business of training a volunteer to CAVE. That is a pre-requisite for underground team members. But you don’t have to be an underground team member – there are plenty of vital surface jobs for non-underground team members!

Individual Membership

Some rescue teams have an individual membership. In this case volunteers can apply for membership and when accepted will be part of the rescue team subject to callout to incidents. Different teams will maintain their own criteria for individual members. This will often involve being known as a competent caver. Team members undergo regular training and volunteers will be expected to attend to show the necessary commitment to the team.

Club Based Teams

Some cave rescue teams are caving club based and take their operational manpower from those clubs in and around their area of operation. In these cases responsibility for ensuring a caver is capable of assisting in a rescue may be passed onto the clubs. If you are a member of a club with a rescue team then you should contact your leader for details of how to become a team member.

Non-Caving Volunteers

Rescue teams can benefit from the help of non-caving volunteers. On a rescue there is a need for volunteers to drive vehicles, handle surface communications, catering and other similar roles and some teams will have non-caving support members to fill these roles. On occasions other resources such as ambulance, the fire service, the RAF (including helicopters) or mountain rescue may be called to help.

Non caving members may also help with pre and post operational functions of the team (equipment maintenance, fund raising and other functions). Caving team members will also be required to fulfill these roles.

Want to Help?

If you wish to help cave rescue in any way, then you can contact your local team or you can contact the national secretary, who will help in whatever way possible.