Swiftwater Search & Rescue

NCEM Water Rescue PatchIn 1999, after Hurricane Floyd's massive impact on North Carolina, North Carolina Emergency Management worked with local communities and counties to develop a new way to do business during disasters. The goal was to provide consistent training and equipment so that rescue teams could aid neighboring jurisdictions during a crisis regardless of the conditions or terrain. The result was an arsenal of consistently trained, organized search and rescue teams that could be deployed at a moment’s notice.

Today, there are more than 30 highly-trained swift water rescue teams positioned across the state that meet national standards and can be deployed anywhere within North Carolina or across the country. Teams can be pre-deployed with the needed resources based on the team's level of capability. During the Hurricane Matthew, swiftwater teams rescued more than 1,800 residents from flooded vehicles and homes.

Since then, NCEM has strengthened the requirements to include cross-training for a variety of flood scenarios and required the teams meet stringent national standards. To qualify as one of the state-approved search and rescue teams, the members must demonstrate basic first responder skills then complete additional training in advanced swift water techniques. Teams are now capable of a variety of rescues from using small vessels to rescue residents from flooded homes to those outfitted with motorized, inflatable boats that can save people stranded by rising floodwaters in precarious locations. 

Teams are strategically positioned across the state and ready to deploy when needed. Technicians are  trained and properly equipped and teams can be pre-deployed as needed.

NC Catawba Flood Exercise 

The NCEM water rescue typing guide outlines the standards for both North Carolina and Federal water rescue resources.