2022 In Review

In 2022 RAT-SAR responded to 34 incidents with a total of 3218 man-hours on scene. As of February 6, 2023 we are already at 294 man-hours on scene.

RAT-SAR continues to expand and answer regional search and rescue calls across the Southeastern United States.

Winston County Search

RAT-SAR was paged out to assist with a search for two subjects who had gone missing in the Bankhead National Forest in Winston County while hiking to Sougahoagdee Falls. The subjects were able to get a call out to Winston County 911 and explained they were not injured, but lost and had no gear to stay overnight. Shortly after that, their cell phone died. An initial search was conducted by Winston County Sheriff’s Office that night but was not successful due to the rugged and remote nature of the terrain, as well as darkness. A follow-up search was initiated using a multi-agency effort based on the coordinates provided by 911. ALEA Aviation was called in and ground search teams assembled. At approximately 1025 on October 28th, the subjects were located by ALEA’s search helicopter approximately 700 meters from the 911 cell phone ping. ALEA directed ground teams to the subjects where it was determined they could be safely extracted on foot and by all-terrain vehicles. The female subject was suffering from mild hypothermia. Paramedics and EMTs treated her on scene and she advised she did not want to be transported to the hospital.

RAT-SAR would like to thank everyone involved in the multi-agency search and rescue:

  • Winston County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office
  • ALEA Aviation
  • Winston County Rescue Squad
  • Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit
  • Huntsville Search Dog Unit
  • Morgan County Rescue Squad
  • Central Fire Department

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.