What We Do | Emergency Response Team Search and Rescue (ERTSAR) UK

International Disaster Response

ERTSAR deploys all over the world in response to disasters and emergencies such as earthquakes and major floods.  Most of these deployments are immediately following a life threatening incident, in the response phase of the disaster management cycle.

The team may also deploy to non-emergency missions. These type of deployments are sometimes conducted for “Indirect Impact”, i.e. to perform training, capacity building, community development, children’s and family development, resilience, disaster risk reduction, post-disaster recovery follow-up and rebuilding. In all of our deployments we have a strong focus on the medical aspect of the response.

To deploy internationally, team members must train to a high level in a number of technical rescue disciplines, have an understanding and ability to work within the disaster management framework (such as UNDAC, OCHA, OSOCC, etc) and complete advanced on-going training.

Swift Water Rescue and Flood Response


ERTSAR is on the UK national DEFRA asset list for flood response across the country and are one of the only responding teams in the Oxfordshire area.  Members of the marine unit are trained specifically in swift water rescue techniques, personal water craft and power boat handling skills.

The water rescue skills and experience within the team is also called upon internationally, such as in response to the flooding in Pakistan of 2010. The environments may change but the skills can be put to use wherever we are called.

USAR and Technical Rescue

ERTSAR is a Medium INSARAG listed Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team. This adjunct deals specifically with the rescue of casualties from collapsed structures, most typically in the aftermath of earthquakes.

USAR is a complex form of technical rescue requiring many skill sets such as confined space, rope and trench rescue.

As a medium USAR team we have the ability to breach, break and cut reinforced concrete and rebar using saws, breakers and drilling equipment. We use specialist tools to locate entombed casualties such as the DELSAR seismic listening device and search cameras and have the ability to work with search dogs on a rubble pile.

Technical rescue usually refers to the ability to rescue casualties from high angle scenarios and the use of ropes, anchors, pulleys plus specialist skills and equipment. Rope techniques are one of the essential skills that team members must have for many different scenarios. Technical rope rescue can be applied in many situations including swift water and USAR deployments.

High-Risk Missing Person Searching

The team responds to high-risk despondent missing person searches at the request of local police forces. We utilise man-tracking skills, trailing search dogs and an in-depth knowledge of SAR techniques to find whoever we are looking for.
We are able to traverse various terrain by foot, bike, 4X4s or search waterways using boats. We can work throughout the night in austere environments and weather conditions for as long as necessary. For covering ground quickly during a hasty search we have a dedicated mountain bike search team.

Once again, this type of search and rescue skill can be applied to all kinds of scenarios. Often on an international deployment, people may have been displaced by earthquakes or tsunamis and the skills used in our home countries will be applied abroad to find people have become lost due to the disaster.

Capacity Building and Resilience

It is a proven fact that when a disaster or emergency strikes, it is the people, communities, witness and victims themselves who are first on the scene.  Therefore any training that we can get to prepare ourselves and support our families and communities may prove invaluable.  ERTSAR training and community programmes are an important part of this Capacity Building. ERTSAR hold presentations in schools, community groups, churches, businesses etc., to teach members of our communities what to do in an emergency or major incident and how we may be better prepared.

By participating in active capacity building projects we are confident that this will also encourage an increased interest in Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) and Community Resilience. After the Pakistan earthquake of 2005 we proudly participated in numerous programmes at many levels including Federal, Provincial and District which culminated in the development of Pakistan’s Civil Defence organisation.

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Contact Us


Emergency call-outs only:

+44 (0)1491 378 007

All other/general enquiries:

+44 (0)8432 891 478

ERT Search and Rescue, C/O Henley Business School, Greenlands, Oxfordshire, UK, RG9 3AU

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