A Weekend Of Search And Rescue

Friday / Saturday:

RAT-SAR was paged out on Friday evening (September 30) to search for a 59-year-old female living with a condition that may impair her judgement. The search was suspended Friday night and resumed on Saturday morning.

We would like to thank every team and team member who assisted and turned a very life-threatening situation into a happy conclusion. This outcome would not have been possible without everyone involved. We had 51 searchers on the roster for Saturday when the subject was located.

True professionals, all:

Albertville Police Department

Fischer Rescue Squad

Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit

North Alabama Search Dog Association

Huntsville Search Dog Unit

Sartec K9 Unit

Northwest Alabama K9

Marshall County Aviation

ALEA Aviation

Mountain Lakes Behavioral Center


During joint team training on Sunday (October 2) with Fischer Rescue Squad, Fischer was paged out to rescue a man who had fallen approximately 100 feet off a bluff at Bucks Pocket State Park and hung up in a tree. RAT-SAR responded with Fischer and the multiple responding teams were able to safely extract the subject and turn him over to EMS.

Swiftwater Rescue Class

RAT-SAR Swiftwater Rescue class was held in North Carolina this past weekend. Lot of fun and great instruction from Shawn Haynes, Eric Wiseman, Darrell Adams and Shane Adams. Working on adding another class to the RAT-SAR schedule.

Body Discovered in Search for Missing Asheville Man

Press Release from McDowell County Sheriff’s Office:

On Monday afternoon, authorities located human remains in a remote area of Curtis Creek in McDowell County, NC. Detectives with the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office believe the body is that of 20-year-old Gabe Focaracci who has been missing from the Asheville area since June 24th.  Deputies and Rescue personnel made the discovery in a steep and rugged ravine around one mile from where his car was found on July 12th.  An autopsy will be conducted this week.

In total, nine searches were made by authorities since the discovery of his car. “I would like to thank the brave men and women from all the different agencies and organizations who have assisted us with these searches. The area is rugged, steep, and very dangerous to operate in”, said Sheriff Ricky Buchanan.

The discovery was made by members of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, McDowell Emergency Management, North Carolina Emergency Management Mountain Rescue Team, McDowell EMS and members Randall’s Adventure Training Search and Rescue (RATSAR) out of Alabama.

The Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank the Old Fort Fire Department, Crooked Creek Fire Department, Marion Fire Department, Hankins Fire Department, McDowell Rescue Squad, NC Wildlife Resource Commission, and numerous K9 teams for their help with previous searches.

Cave Rescue Class

RAT-SAR team members participated in the annual Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit’s Cave Rescue Technician class over the past 4 days. The class had a total of 22 students –  all there to learn how to respond to cave rescue calls in their jurisdictions. For more information on the course visit: http://www.hcru.org/rescueclass

Valhalla Training Day

RAT-SAR members spent a training day descending and ascending Valhalla cave. The descent /ascent is a 227′ vertical drop. Valhalla is an excellent training cave for vertical rescues and single rope skills development. Practicing in locations such as this increases our rescue capabilities on actual rescues in remote and hazardous terrain.

Missing Teenager – Bankhead

RAT-SAR call for assistance came in at approximately 10:30am July 12th, of an 18 year old male that may have wondered off into the woods near the Black Warrior Check-in Station on County Road 9 in Bankhead National Forrest. Deputies arrived and located a vehicle belonging to the 18-year-old. The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office Multi Agency Search and Rescue along with Randall’s Adventure and Training Search & Rescue (RAT-SAR), Northwest Alabama K-9, Morgan County Search and Rescue, Christian Aid Ministry, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Cadets, ALEA helicopter, and the U.S. Forestry Law Enforcement units arrived for the search. The Lawrence County EMA office setup a command post. At approximately 6:15pm one of the search teams spotted the 18-year-old near Borden Creek approx. 2 miles from where the teenager entered the woods. The teenager was escorted to the nearest road and transported to the command post. The young man stated that he went into the woods to do some thinking and became lost. The teenager was provided food and water and left with family members. Read the news article.

RAT-SAR Quarterly Training

Great weekend of training with RAT-SAR members at Bucks Pocket State Park. We had a chance to try out some new rescue gear that will make some of our rescue mission safer and faster, as well as getting some new members on rope for their first time.

Injured Horse Rider Rescue

On July 4th, RAT-SAR received a call for assistance from Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office about a missing and possibly injured horse rider. The team was paged out at 1400. While enroute, a RAT-SAR team member who happened to be in the area notified RAT-SAR that he had found the woman and she was injured possibly with a broken hip. Her location was a rugged, off-trail area of the Bankhead National Forest. RAT-SAR arrived at the command post approximately 1600 and begin the hike in to assist with bringing the subject out. The subject was evacuated via a wheeled litter for about 1100 meters until reaching the Kubota RTV at the trail. The subject was then transported via the RTV for about 3 miles along the trail. The call was cleared approximately 2345 with the subject and all rescuers out of the woods. This rescue was a multi-agency effort by Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office Multi Agency Search and Rescue, Moulton Fire Department, Mt. Hope Fire Department, RAT-SAR, NW Alabama K-9, Lawrence County EMS, and Alabama Forestry Law Enforcement. Read the news story about the rescue.

Cave Rescue Weekend

RAT-SAR hosted our annual cave rescue exercise at Shelta cave in Huntsville, AL. The exercise consisted of rescuing a patient via a vertical raise from a small crevice approximately 30’ below the rigging point, then moving the patient on a horizontal line to another vertical raise, then transitioning to another horizontal line and moving to the final vertical raise out of the cave. The rescue team consisted of 16 rescuers from North Carolina rescue teams and RAT-SAR.