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.

Sipsey Wilderness Search and Rescue

05/30/2022 – LCSO paged out RAT-SAR at 1452 on May 30, 2022 to search for a missing 33-year-old male. The subject had communicated to other hikers that he was lost. The hikers had made contact with the subject while he was on top of a cliff with no way to get down to the trail that the hikers were on. The hikers told him to stay put and they would hike around and show him how to get out. It took approximately 2-hours for the hikers to get to the subject’s last known point. When the hikers arrived at his location, the subject had already moved. The hikers immediately notified the sheriff’s office of the missing person. ALEA was paged out and a search helicopter was sent from Montgomery. At approximately 2130 hours the aerial searchers saw a light being flashed at them in a rough area of the Sipsey. Coordinates were relayed to ground search teams and they proceeded to move off-trail to the location. The subject was located with an injured knee and slowly walked out. All teams and the subject arrived back at the ICP at 0530 the next morning. The subject had been lost for 3 days and said he had not eaten and was drinking water from streams. The subject was off-trail in one of the most rugged areas of the Sipsey with no trail access and a lot of high-angle environment. RAT-SAR would like to thank the following mutual aid response teams for assistance on this call: Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, NW AL K9, Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit, Fischer Rescue Squad and ALEA Aviation Unit.



RAT-SAR recently migrated to the D4H database system to more easily manage and document the administration of personnel, qualifications, training, and attendance within our agency. With D4H we are able to track our qualifications, training certificates and re-qualification dates, as well as maintain a detailed record of training exercises and incidents we are involved in. Visit D4H


Dallas County Search

It’s always much appreciated by SAR teams when the sheriff shows up to show his support during a search mission. Even better when the sheriff puts on his boots and joins the search as the Dallas county sheriff did the past couple of days. Thank you to Sheriff Mike Granthum of Dallas county (AL) as well as his deputies for the support and assistance during our recent search with NW AL K9 Search and Rescue. We are still actively searching for Mr. Leshore. If anyone has any information please contact the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office at (334) 874-2530.

First Mission Of 2022

RAT-SAR’s first callout of the new year was a mutual aid assistance call with Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit and Scottsboro Jackson County Rescue Squad for a vertical cave rescue. One person with minor injuries was transported to hospital. The call took approx. 6 hours to complete.

2021 Year In Review

RAT-SAR ended 2021 with a total of 35 calls for assistance ranging from searches to rescues and recoveries. RAT-SAR’s regional search and rescue team continues to grow. In 2021 RAT-SAR supported AHJs in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. Currently, RAT-SAR has 47 members with most trained at the NASAR SARTECH II level or higher.

In 2022 RAT-SAR will be begin training the Polk County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team, as well as a couple of other startup teams that have requested assistance in forming a new team, as well as having a mutual aid agreement with RAT-SAR.

As always, RAT-SAR appreciates any and all public support. As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, donations are tax deductible with 100% of all donations going to RAT-SAR for operational expenses. All RAT-SAR members, including the Executive Board, are un-paid volunteers. RAT-SAR does not charge for any search and rescue services – this includes not charging for travel expenses and lodging to other states.