Alberta / British Columbia Cave Rescue Service (ABCCRS)

About the Organization

Formed in 2011, ABCCRS coordinates and provides cave rescue training and response in Alberta and British Columbia through two parallel organizations formally recognized as SAR groups in their respective provinces.  BC Cave Rescue was organized informally in 1984, incorporated into  the British Columbia Speleological Federation in 1994 and registered as a separate society in 2019. Under a 1992 MOU, BCCR is recognized by the Province of BC as the lead organization in cave rescue, providing specialized personnel and equipment for cave rescue emergencies on callout by the RCMP, BC Ambulance or the EMBC Emergency Coordination.  The Alberta Cave Rescue Organization was registered as a society in 2001 and enjoys strong support from the Alberta Speleological Society.

ABCCRS personnel are trained in companion and organized response cave rescue techniques through annual 20-hour courses in various locations. Since 2013, North American cave rescue protocols have evolved toward European caving and cave rescue techniques. Of 108 incidents (1973-2021), fewer than 10 have involved major responses, while about two-thirds have not required outside assistance.  In recent years, more incidents have involved individuals outside the organized caving community and formal callouts.

Karst and Caves

There are 1.2 million km2 of karst rock outcroppings in Canada, found in all geological regions except the Canadian Shield.  In Western Canada, most karst occurs in the Rocky Mountains, but significant areas exist on Vancouver Island and in parts oft he Columbia Mountains.  As of 2021, the longest and deepest known caves are in the central & southern Rocky Mountains (e.g., Castleguard – 21 km long; Bisaro Anima – 674 m deep) and Vancouver Island (e.g., ARGO System – 17 km long; Thanksgiving – 479 m). No formal training is offered for caving and caving activity is constrained by accessibility, population distribution and a relatively small organized caving community (<250 in Western Canada), though the profile of the pastime is slowly growing.


All cave rescue responses to callouts by a Responsible Agency (police or ambulance) receive a Task Number which authorizes coverage of all SAR expenses. SAR subjects are not liable for any rescue operation costs and cavers do not require SAR insurance coverage.


BCCR – Cassidy Simpson,, 1-250-318-0364
ACRO – Christian Stenner,, 1-403-813-2383

Emergency Call: Alberta & BC – 911


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