They were the state's first Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team, and they
started in the late 1990s. They were
conceived as regional technical rescue team that was based in Forsyth and
Davidson counties. They were incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2000,
and renamed from "Strike Force" to "Task Force" in May 2000. Two years later,
they shortened their name to NCTF-1.
But wait, Batman, the state-sponsored USAR
task forces weren't created until 2003. What's the story here? Thanks to some
readers and a recent discussion on social media, here's a history of the
organization, as well as one of their founding agencies, the now-defunct Forsyth
1959 – Forsyth Rescue Squad (FRS) chartered.
1962 – FRS incorporated.
1969 – FRS adds first technical rescue truck.
1989 – National USAR response system created, using city- and county-based
1995 – After Oklahoma City bombing, states begin developing USAR teams.
1998 – North Carolina Strike Force 1 (NCSF1) created as regional technical response team,
as joint venture between FRS and Thomasville Rescue Squad.
1999 – North Carolina Canine Emergency Response Team (NCCERT), as a
statewide search and rescue resource, and a participating agency in NCSF1
with a home base at FRS.
1999 – First deployment of NCSF1.
2000c – NCSF1 adds Troutman Fire-Rescue.
2000 – NCSF1 incorporated.
2000 – NCCERT incorporated.
2001 – NCSF1 renamed North Carolina Task Force 1 (NCTF1).
2001 – After events of September 11, federal monies made available through
NC EM, to develop statewide USAR program.
2002 – State implements progressive plan to establish regional USAR teams.
2002 – NCTF1 renamed “NCTF1”, abbreviated.
2003 – State identifies eleven regional USAR teams
2003 – NCTF1 begins operating as a state team named North Carolina USAR Task
2003 – FRS disbands. Most of their vehicles and equipment disposed to
2004 – NCCERT relocates home base to Apex, NC, and partners with Apex FD.
2004 – Task Force 4 adds Apex FD.
2006 – Task Force 4 adds Morrisville FD.
2013 – State streamlines USAR teams, dissolves four teams.
2013 – Task Force 4 dissolved.
Note: This "short version" was created for a blog posting about this page,
posted on May 8, 2017.
North Carolina Strike Force 1
Photo courtesy of Jeff Hinshaw
Late 1990s - First USAR Team in North Carolina
1998 - North Carolina Strike Force 1 is organized in the latter part of 1998.
The initial services they provide are trench, collapse, and technical rescue,
through their first two member agencies: Forsyth Rescue Squad and Thomasville
It was conceived as a regional technical rescue team, as a joint venture between
the Thomasville and Forsyth squads.
The agencies already worked together on trench rescue, and their idea
was to expand their joint technical rescue capabilities.
In fact, Forsyth Rescue Squad had two of
the original trench rescue units in the northwestern part of the state. The
other was Yadkin County Rescue Squad.
1999, July - First canine training conducted, which added a canine search and
rescue (SAR) function to the team.
Daniel "Mac" Morgan, a retired law officer and veteran K9 SAR
specialist, was contacted by Thad Brison, the SAR Coordinator for the state.
He was told about the strike force that had formed, and their need for a
canine SAR function.
Morgan had been involved in SAR since 1993, and formed Carolina Canine
Search and Rescue, which was renamed Wake Canine Search and Rescue in 1996.
He served as President and Director of Training.
The July training was conducted by Morgan and David Inman, of NC Search
and Rescue Dog Association.
In August or September, they began organizing the North Carolina Canine
Emergency Response Team (NCCERT), as a separate organization that was part
of NCSF1. See later section.
1999, September - First deployment of NCSF1, to Hurricane Floyd, via
the state EM.
Forsyth Rescue members went to Wilson, and Thomasville Rescue
members went to the Princeville area. Some (all?) members were deployed for ten
Over their years, NCSF1 responded to several regional events,
including the tornadoes in Stoneville (1998), Hurricane Floyd as noted, and
trench rescue incidents in Forsyth, Davidson, and Iredell counties.
1999 - After the devastating impact of Hurricane
Floyd, North Carolina Emergency Management (NC EM) begins developing regional USAR teams, to address
gaps in capabilities of local responders (and federal teams, which are too far
away to be effective resources).
The program is funded mostly through federal
grants, and sustained through contributions from local sponsoring agencies.
Though the federal government also has an established USAR program, none
of the teams are located in North Carolina, and prior disasters had proven
that those teams were unable to respond in a timeline manner, to meet the
needs of a state USAR resource.
Though loosely based
on the federal system, the NC USAR program focuses more on a regional concept,
much like the regional haz-mat teams.
NC USAR capability is focused around
“modular resource packaging” that can support a wide array of disasters, from
collapsed buildings to flood response, and with communications and logistics
2000-2002 - Incorporation, New Names, New Members
Circa 2000 - NCSF-1 expands to include Troutman
The task force members (and assets) were drawn from Forsyth, Thomasville,
and Troutman, as well as some other central-piedmont fire and rescue agencies.
The team later included Alexander Rescue Squad (Alexander County,
Incorporated 1959) and Claremont Rescue Squad (Catawba County, incorporated
their collapse/cave-in assets. [Legeros: Need to verify this.]
2000, May - North Carolina Strike Force One, Incorporated
as non-profit charitable corporation. The purposes of the organization are:
Organized to manage, train and render aid and
assistance in emergency and disaster situations, man-made or natural as a rapid
response Urban Search and Rescue Unit to persons in North Carolina and other
regions requesting mutual aid on a non-profit basis whose life and property is
in eminent danger, and
To acquire and own rescue and emergency medical
service apparatus for use by the corporation in the protection of persons from
injury or loss of life; to own and acquire land and to construct buildings for
use by the corporation in connection with the house of rescue and emergency
medical service apparatus and providing a place of meeting for the members of
the corporation; to sponsor and hold rescue schools and emergency medical
service training; to engage in any and all types of activities not prohibited
by law that shall be for the betterment of the communities, counties, and state.
The initial board of directors are:
Gerald E. Clodfelter
Roy L. Alson, M.D.
The directors were listed with
registered addresses as Clemmons, Statesville, Thomasville, Troutman, and
The principal address was 1499 Old Salisbury Road, Winston-Salem.
The document was filed on May 12, 2000.
The organization was the first
recognized USAR team in the state.
By 2000, NCSF1 had about sixty members.
2000, June - Snapshot:
Board discusses meeting with Governor Hunt's staff, and the flow of
resources during a disaster, EM and OSFM resources that would include NCSF-1
resources. The NCSF-1 Coordinator to meet with representatives from NC EM
Board outlines the NCSF-1 response protocol. Assessment team sent first,
with one-hour time frame. Equipment sent second, with two-hour time frame.
Board discussed logistic support in the field, which agencies could
support NCTF-1, such as EM, DOT, DOD, etc. Also if the NC Paramedic
Association would be available for medical concerns/support?
Board discussed interest from groups in Gaston County, Enka-Chandler,
Hickory, and White Lake.
Board discussed a patch design.
Source: Minutes of Board Meeting, July 18, 2000.
2000, November - Snapshot:
Board approves suggested name change, from North Carolina Strike Force
One to North Carolina Task Force One. The change is recommended as the group
operates as a task force, more than as a strike force.
Board agrees that four quarterly team training meetings/events will
remain the schedule for 2001, with a requirement that members attend at
least three of the four.
Board addresses NCSF-1 getting accepted across the state, and that
NCSF-1 isn't yet designated (by the state?) as a USAR resource. One member
notes that it may take seven to ten years, for the organization to be "fully
operational [and] accepted."
Troutman Fire-Rescue members have joined the task force, and are
referenced as a "team."
Source: Minutes of Board Meeting, November 3, 2000.
2000, December - Equipment carried on USAR 1 includes:
Safety/Marking - Traffic vests, wands, cones; fire extinguishers,
medical/trauma bag, bottled water; goggles, ear plugs, chaps; maps and
resource books; etc.
Note: The positions were previously named Coordinator and Assistant
Annual meeting is held in November.
Board meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every other month.
Member applications received and approved from White Lake Water Rescue, Bladen
County Rescue Squad, and Lumberton Rescue Squad.
Training dates for 2001:
February 3-4 - ISAR
June 1-3 - Annual drill
August 25-26 - Quarterly training
Source: Board Meeting Minutes, December 15, 2000.
2001 - The organization is renamed North Carolina Task Force One,
The corporation name change is filed May 17, 2001.
As the team functioned more like a task force, they changed their legal
Their legal name contained "North Carolina Task Force" and thus
precluded the state from using those four words, in their task force titles.
Thus the state teams were called "North Carolina USAR Task Force."
2001, November - Snapshot:
Board meeting reports that the state is proposing to use three USAR
teams: West, Central, and East. It is dependent on state funding. Equipment
given to agencies or host teams will rest in paid departments.
Organization has MOAs with ham operators and Civil Air Patrol, and is
working on one with Forest Service.
Organization has $2,700 in bank account.
2001-2002, circa - Two search and rescue teams join Task Force One:
Brunswick Search and Rescue (Brunswick County, incorporated February
Down East Search and Rescue (Beaufort County, incorporated September
2002 - The organization is renamed NCTF-1, Incorporated.
The name change is effective November 25, 2002.
Also effective November 24, 2002, the business office of NCTF-1 was
changed to Troutman Fire-Rescue.
2003 - State System Established, Another New Name, Forsyth Rescue Closes
2003 - By this time, NCTF-1 was operating as a state-sponsored USAR team. Their
organization name wasn't changed, but they operated in the state system as NC
USAR Task Force 4.
In 2002, NCEM implemented their plan to establish regional USAR teams
across the state.
In 2003, they identified eleven regional teams, with various size teams
2003, circa - Thomasville Rescue Squad withdraws from NCTF-1, and forms their
own state-recognized USAR task force.
2003 - Forsyth Rescue Squad disbands.
In July 2003, the rescue squad ceased operation. In August 2003, articles of discussion
were filed by the corporation.
The squad's building and assets were transferred to NCCERT, which
continued to operate the technical rescue assets as part of Task Force 4.
A number of former squad members continued their participation Task
Force 4, to provide personnel for technical rescue services. But they ceased
participation within a short period time.
Five members of NCCERT began attending attending technical rescue
classes, as well, and expanding their skills to perform as rescue
NCCERT, their equipment, and the former Forsyth Rescue Squad assets
continued to use the rescue squad building until January 2004.
2004-2013 - New Members, Task Force Disbanded
2004 - NCCERT relocates to Apex, N.C. See next section.
2004 - Apex Fire Department joins Task Force 4. See next section.
2004 - Task Force 4 membership consisted of:
Apex FD and NCCERT - Equipment.
Troutmant FD - Equipment, business office.
Sherrills Ford FD
White Lake Water Rescue
2006 - Morrisville Fire Department joins Task
2013 - Task Force 4 dissolved, along with three
other teams, after NCEM streamlines the number of USAR regional teams
needed to serve the state.
Some of those USAR assets and
capabilities are retained by the member agencies.
Apex FD, for example, remains a state-recognized swift water rescue resource.
Short History of North Carolina USAR Task Forces
1989 - FEMA creates the National
Urban Search and Rescue Response system, after recognizing the value of a
network of such USAR teams as were created in the early 1980s—by fire
departments to deal with rescue operations in collapsed buildings—in Fairfax County,
VA, and Metro-Dade County, in FL. Three years later, the concept was
incorporated into the Federal Response Plan, first published that year. FEMA
sponsored 25 national USAR task forces.
1995 – Shortly after Oklahoma
City bombing, some states being building USAR capabilities, as well.
Many of the state programs, like the later North Carolina teams, are developed
through local Emergency Management agencies.
2001 - After the events of September 11, 2001, federal money was made
available through North Carolina Emergency Management to develop a statewide
USAR program to respond and assist impacted communities when local resources
were taxed beyond their capabilities.
2002 - NCEM implements progressive plan to establish regional USAR teams
across the state. The Task Forces are focused around a modular resource package
that supports a wide array of disasters, from collapsed buildings, to flood
response, to communications and logistical support.
2003 - Eleven regional USAR teams are identified, with various size teams and
geographic locations. In the Raleigh-Durham area, Task Force 8 becomes
operational in September 2003.
2013 - NCEM streamlines the number of USAR regional teams needed to serve the
state. Four teams are dissolved:
TF1 (western NC)
 The story of NC USAR Task Force 8:
Initially comprised of members and equipment from Raleigh, Durham,
Chapel Hill, and Cary fire departments. Became operational in September
Two tractor-drawn USAR units were placed in service at the Raleigh Fire
Department training center: USAR 1, a 1979 International tractor pulling a 1974 Hackney
converted beverage trailer, and USAR 2, a 2002 Volvo/Great Dane transfer
Earlier in the decade, the Raleigh Fire Department had identified the
need for a Type I USAR team capable of continuous technical rescue
operations at man-made and natural disasters for extended periods and
without the need for outside resources. They conceived of a task force with the four fire departments.
After the events of September 11, 2001, and the availability of federal money
through NC EM, the Raleigh Fire Department received
$100,000, which set into motion the development of Task Force 8.
In May 2002, Raleigh firefighters attended a structural collapse
exercise in Asheville. In August of that year, thirty-six firefighters from
the four departments attended a Structural Collapse Technician (SCT) school
In April 2003, Task Force 8 completed construction of a USAR training
facility at the RFD training center. Also that year, Atlas Engineering
joined Task Force 8, to provide engineers, heavy equipment, and operators as
needed for training and deployments.
In September 2003, almost immediately after becoming operational, Task
Force 8 was pre-deployed to the RFD training center for Hurricane Isabel.
Twelve task force members staffed USAR 1 and USAR 2 for deployment to
eastern North Carolina if needed.
Subsequent missions included
September 2004, to Macon County to assist with Hurricane Ivan damage;
December 2005, to Harrison County, MI, to assist with Hurricane Katrina
recovery efforts; September 2007 to Clayton, for an aircraft into a
building; June 2009 to Garner, for a building explosion and fire; and April
2011 to Raleigh, for tornado damage.
On January 1, 2007, Wake County EMS
joined Task Force 8, to provide medical specialists for training
On August 1, 2007, thirty haz-mat technicians were added from the
Raleigh Fire Department, to complete the NIMS criteria for a Type I USAR
In November 2009, the State Highway Patrol joined Task Force 8 to
provide helicopter rescue support, and began training with task force
members as a helicopter rescue team.
Right: NCTF8 fleet in April 2011. Courtesy NCTF8.
List of Original Task Forces
Here's a snapshot of the state teams, and their original classifications,
before they were reduced in 2013:
Task Force 1 - Type IV
Swain County Emergency Management
Task Force 2 - Type IV (now
[ still active ]
Buncombe County Emergency Management
Task Force 3 - Type I
[ still active ]
Charlotte Fire Department
Task Force 4 - Type III
Troutman Fire Department
Apex Fire Department
Morrisville Fire Department
Task Force 5 - Type III
Thomasville Rescue Squad
Task Force 6 - Type II
[ still active ]
Greensboro Fire Department
Task Force 7 - Type IV
Ash-Rand Rescue Squad and EMS
Task Force 8 - Type I
[ still active ]
Raleigh Fire Department
Cary Fire Department (no longer member)
Chapel Hill Fire Department
Durham Fire Department
Wake County EMS
Task Force 9 - Type III
(now Type II)
[ still active ]
Lumberton Rescue Squad
Fayetteville Fire Department
Cumberland County EMS
Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office
Task Force 10 - Type II
[ still active ]
Greenville Fire Rescue
Task Force 11 - Type III
(now Type II)
[ still active ]
Wilmington Fire Department
New Hanover County Fire Rescue
Type I :
Up to 80 personnel
Completely self-sufficient for 72 hours
Designed to maintain 24 hour a day operations
Can respond with smaller response packages based on incident
Can provide other specialized search and rescue resources to
respond to all-hazards
Equivalent collapse response capability to a FEMA USAR Taskforce
Capabilities include heavy concrete breaching and breaking, in addition to wood
frame structural responses
Up to 40 personnel
Two Type II Taskforces can combine to become a Type I Taskforce
Completely self-sufficient for 72 hours
Designed to maintain 12 hour a day operations
Can respond with smaller response packages based on incident
Capabilities include heavy concrete breaching and breaking, in
addition to wood frame structural responses
City of Durham - Renewal of Urban Search and Rescue Memorandum of
FDmaps.com – North Carolina Urban Search and Rescue Teams,
NC Department of Public Safety - Urban Search & Rescue Program Report,
NC Department of Public Safety - Urban Search & Rescue,
NC Secretary of State - Corporations Division,
Plus other stuff to be added, acknowledgements, etc.
Forsyth Rescue Squad History
This history is adapted from text that originally appeared on
the organization's former web page, which was retrieved using
the Internet Archives.
1959 to 1969
Forsyth Rescue Squad was chartered February 28, 1959, by the North Carolina Civil
Defense Office, with a mission to engage in rescue and first aid activities for the public
welfare. The original membership consisted of eight men dedicated to the
preservation of life and assisting their fellow man when in need. The original
Squad vehicle, a 1951 Dodge military-type ambulance, was parked under a big oak
tree on the parking lot of its sponsor, Moose Lodge 466, located at 1495 Old
Early activities of the squad included participating in Operation Snowcap in
northwest North Carolina, and the
search for crew members that were aboard a B-52 that crashed near Denton., N.C., in 1961. Forsyth Rescue was again cast into the spotlight on January
18, 1964, when five young Forsyth County boys fell through an ice covered pond
in Salem Woods and drowned.
In 1962, the squad was incorporated by the state as Forsyth Rescue Squad, Inc.
The articles of incorporation were filed on May 9, 1962.
In 1965, the first squad building was erected.
To protect the equipment from the weather, it was constructed on land
leased to the squad by the Moose Lodge. The lease was received from the Lodge in
1965, and the building permit was signed on April 26, 1965.
InIn 1966, a paging system for alerts was added.
The communications at this time consisted mostly of telephones and citizen band
radios. These were updated with the installation of a Plectron Alerting paging
system in the fall of 1966. The Plectron allowed all members to be notified of an
emergency simultaneously. This same system remained in use through the life of
In 1969, the chassis for a new rescue truck was purchased. Various pieces
of rescue equipment were donated by individuals and organizations. This
community support allowed the Squad to purchase a Ford truck chassis in 1969. A
heavy rescue body was added later, and the combination made the Technical Rescue
Truck a reality.
1970 to 1979
In June 1971, additional classroom space, kitchen, shower and bedroom facilities
were added to the squad building.
In April 1973, the squad placed a modular-type ambulance in service. This was the first transport unit of this type in Forsyth County. The
squad also began participating in the county-wide Ambulance Assist program, a
forerunner of today's First Responder program. This program
allows the county Emergency Medical Services to dispatch the nearest rescue
squad to a
medical emergency, to stabilize a patient as quickly as possible, prior to
In the spring of 1974, the squad was first again with they purchased the first
Hurst tool in the area. This unique tool is a complement to the hand tools
carried on the Technical Rescue Truck.
In 1975, a four-wheel drive Suburban-type vehicle was purchased, for use as a
Quick Response Vehicle. It replaced an ambulance that had been acquired from
the Forsyth County Ambulance Service.
During 1977, the squad building at 1499 Old Salisbury
Road was completely renovated, and the parking lot was paved. Also that
year, Advanced Life Support equipment (Life-Pak 4) and cardiac drugs were placed
vehicles, after seven members were certified as Mobile Intensive Care
Forsyth Rescue Squad, in conjunction with the Winston-Salem Rescue Squad, began
a pilot Infant Transport Program with the N. C. Baptist Hospital's Intensive
Care Nursery. This concept allowed a trained medical team to be
dispatched to outlying hospitals to stabilize critically ill newborn infants and
then transport them to N. C. Baptist Hospital.
In 1979, a Chevrolet Blazer was purchased to replace the 4-wheel drive Quick
Response Vehicle. Also in 1979 and 1980, new ropes, additional chains, and a 30-inch Hurst
hydraulic ram were
1980 to 1989
The squad spent 1981 in preparation for the 25th Annual Convention of
the North Carolina Association of Rescue Squads, which Forsyth Rescue Squad hosted
October 9 through 11 at the Convention Center in Winston-Salem.
In April 1982, a Wheeled Coach Ambulance replaced the modular unit that was
purchased in 1973. Also that year, the manila ropes on the Technical Rescue
Truck were also
replaced with poly-plus rope in October, and a 24-foot extension ladder was
purchased in November.
During 1983, the squad became a member of the United Way of Forsyth County. Also
that year, a larger, heavy duty chassis for
the Technical Rescue Truck was purchased in the early spring of 1983, with a new Ford F-600 chassis
to replace the overloaded 1969 chassis.
The new truck responded on its first pin-in on June 16, 1983. During August, two
new electric drills, an electric skill saw, and new wrenches and sockets were
added to the tools carried on the Technical Rescue Truck.
In January 1984, the squad took delivery of two General
Electric 5-watt portable radios, a Hurst cutting tool. Also that year, Moose
Lodge #466 donated an additional tract of land to the squad. This land, to the
west of the building, replaced land used for building expansion, and served as a parking lot.
Also in 1984, the squad acquired a Wheeled Coach light rescue Quick
Response Vehicle, but which was totalled in a wreck later that year. Also,
1984 was the first year for Forsyth Rescue Squad as a funded member of the
On September 25, 1984, Forsyth Rescue Squad suffered the loss of one of its
members in the line of duty. Training Officer Stephen G. Richey, 34, was killed
along with a helicopter pilot, when they were attempting to rescue a
construction worker trapped
atop a water tower in Kernersville. The aircraft backed into one of the tower's
legs, which separated the tail rotor, and it spun to the ground, crashing and
killing both occupants. Richey was a thirteen-year member of the squad, serving
as a paramedic and EMT IV. "No greater love has
any man than that he lay down his life for a friend." Richey was buried at Parklawn
Memorial Gardens. His name was added to the National EMS Memorial in 2000. See
this page from the national memorial site.
The Indiana Gazette Wednesday, September 26, 1984
Helicopter crashes in rescue
attempt KERNERSVILLE, N.C. (AP)
The; decision to use a helicopter at night to
retrieve the body of a worker who bled to death while pinned atop a water tower
was a last resort, officials said after the chopper hit the tower and crashed,
killing two people.
Three previous attempts to rescue Charles Glenwood Tompkins
Jr. with a 75-foot aerial ladder, a 90-foot cherry picker and with ropes handled
by rescuers who scaled the 140- foot tower had failed, officials said Tuesday
night. Both Tompkins' legs were broken when a girder he cut fell the wrong way,
pinning him to the tower.
He bled to death four hours later, about ten minutes
before WFMY-TV's news helicopter arrived, said Dr. Lew W. Stringer, chief
Forsyth County Medical examiner, who organized the rescue operation in this
north-central North Carolina town.
As the helicopter approached the tower, it
struck a protruding piece of steel and crashed on top of a nearby building,
rupturing gas lines and setting the structure on fire as 350 horrified onlookers
watched. Mayor Roger Swisher said the helicopter turned over like it was in "a
giant somersault, and everybody started hollering 'Oh my God, Oh my God.'"
crash killed the pilot, Thomas J. Haroski, 39, of Clemmons, and Steve Richey of
Winston-Salem, a member of the Forsyth Rescue Squad, Stringer said. Haroski was
the executive vice president of Triad Helicopters Inc., which owned the
helicopter that crashed. "I'd do the same thing again.... I'm sure we'll think
of ways we could have done it differently ...," Stringer said of his decision to
use the helicopter.
Workers were able to remove the pilot's body late Tuesday
night, but Richey's body remained in the helicopter for hours until firefighters
put out the flames. Tompkins' body was brought down at 3:30 a.m. today by a
crane. Haroksi had cooperated with law enforcement agencies in the past, and Jim
Collins, WFMY news director, said, "That helicopter and he were one and the
same.... He helped people, which is what he was trying to do tonight."
inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration's Winston-Salem office will
investigate the accident today, said inspector Paul Justus.
Tompkins, 29, was
trapped about 6:10 p.m. when the 20-foot section he was cutting from the top of
one of the tower's four legs fell in the wrong direction, crushing his legs,
Stringer said. The tower was being razed to make room for a parking lot.
workers tied him in place. Dale Roberts of the Kernersville Rescue Squad stayed
on a beam and held Tompkins until he died, Stringer said. "He apparently bled to
death because we couldn't get him down," Stringer said. "He was alive until
about 10 minutes before the helicopter crashed."
By the time the chopper lifted
off from Kernersville Junior High School, three rescue attempts had failed. Haroski was notified that Tompkins was dead and was asked to retrieve the body,
Stringer said. Greensboro chopper goes down in an attempt to rescue a
On January 1, 1984,
Forsyth Rescue Squad assumed the field duties of the Forsyth Water Rescue Team. Divers were recruited and the Underwater Search and
Recovery function was added to the squads' capabilities. A 1985 Chevrolet
four-wheel drive Suburban was purchased for a Quick Response Vehicle, and the
was converted to a utility vehicle for use by the Underwater Search and Recovery
Unit. Also that year, a hydraulic winch was mounted on the front of our Technical Rescue Truck.
In 1986, work was completed on a 5,000-plus square-foot addition to the squad
building, at a cost of approximately $110,000. Three large bays and a classroom
were added, which allowed renovation of existing space to create offices, storage,
and separate sleeping quarters for female members.
Since that year, the squad acquired air Bags for technical rescue, two newer Quick
Response Vehicles, and a new Technical Rescue Truck.
1990 to 1999
In 1990, the Forsyth Rescue Squad Dive Team added a Chevrolet dive van, equipped
to handle twenty dive tank and four sets of gear configured for immediate
deployment and diving. It was also equipped with a 6500 watt generator and a lighting
In 1991 the dive team partnered with Carolina Yamaha for a program that
provides the dive team with a demonstrator-model jet ski each year, for use with water
Also in 1991, the year started with the purchase of a trench rescue trailer and
equipment, purchased with a matching state grant from the North Carolina Department of
In 1992, a custom-built heavy rescue truck was purchased from 3D Corporation,
and using a 1992 International chassis.
The squad's twenty two year-old Technical Rescue truck was converted for use as part of
the squad's trench rescue response.
In 1995, Forsyth Rescue Squad adopted the State of North Carolina Basic Rescue
Technician and Advanced Rescue Technician standards as minimum standards for
training. Also during that year, Forsyth Rescue replaced its QRV with a 1996 Ford
In 1996, Forsyth Rescue Squad begin a training program to provide service at an
In 1997, the required number of EMTs were certified at the EMT-D level, and a
defibrillator was purchased for the Quick Response
Vehicle. Also that year, the squad's 1982 Wheeled
Coach Ambulance was replaced with a new ambulance. Also, a Zodiac boat was
purchased to replace the dive team's aging flat bottom boat
2000 to 2003
By the 2000s, the squad's call volume had greatly reduced. In July 2003, the
squad ceased operations. It was dissolved as a corporation and Articles of Disillusion
were filed with the state on August 11, 2003.
First responder within the city limits was assumed by Winston-Salem Fire
Chartered in 1962, the squad had operated for 51 years. They were not the oldest
squad in the county, however. The
Winston-Salem Rescue Squad started in 1937 and was chartered in 1947.
The squad building and its assets were disposed to North Carolina Canine
Emergency Response Team (NCCERT), which shared the building and was another
participation agency in NCSF-1.
Though the squad and then NCCERT owned the building, they did not own the land.
NCCERT negotiated with the Moose Lodge, the properties, but with no resolution.
In January 1999, the building was vacated, and NCCERT and their former Forsyth
Rescue Squad assets relocated to Apex, NC. See next section.
FRS was assigned the county number of Station 7.
FRS also had a rescue district in the Griffith FD (Station 15) fire district.
They assumed medical response and rescue duties after Station 7 (FRS) closed.
They provided search and rescue services
using specially trained search teams of canines and support personnel.
They also operated as part of North Carolina Strike Force 1, after
conducting their first canine training session in July 1999.
See earlier section about founders were Daniel "Mac" Morgan and David
In August 2000, NCCERT was
incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization.
incorporators were located in Cary (Inman), Wendell (Morgan), and Winston-Salem
In July 2003, Forsyth Rescue Squad ceased operation.
In August 2003, their corporation disbanded and the squad's building and
assets were transferred to NCCERT.
These assets added technical rescue capabilities to the canine response
A number of squad members continued their participation in NCSF1, to
provide personnel for technical rescue services. But they ceased
participation within a short period time.
Five members of NCCERT also began attending attending technical rescue
classes, and expanding their skills to perform as rescue technicians.
After August 2003, NCCERT started looking for a new home.
NCCERT shared their home base with NCSF1 at the Forsyth Rescue Squad
building on Old Salisbury Road in Winston-Salem.
After the squad closed, NCCERT began negotiating with the property
owners to retain use of the building. They were unable to reach a deal.
At the same time, NCCERT was looking for a new base of operation.
Because they volunteers from all over North Carolina, and a majority of
them in the central and eastern part of the state, they hoped to find something in
central North Carolina.
The NCCERT business office was located in Johnston County, near Wake
County, and they targeted Wake County as a new home base.
They tried to find
a facility to house their equipment, such as the former Stony Hill fire
station on Highway 98.
They also considered Morrisville Fire Station 3,
which was due to be vacated. (The Morrisville station, they later learned,
would've be available for another twelve months.)
Wake County Emergency Management officials suggested that
they contact the town of Apex.
In the fall of 2003, NCCERT approached the town of Apex, about forming a
They offered the town (and notably the fire department) the use of
$2M worth of equipment and its volunteers.
In return, they wanted the town to
maintain the equipment, and give them a place to call home.
In January 2004, NCCERT relocated to Apex, NC.
The rented a warehouse on Perry Street.
Everything fit inside the building except their rescue truck, which was
loaned to Lumberton Rescue Squad.
The move was completed that month and NCCERT was operational from their
In May 2004, the cooperative agreement between NCCERT and Apex FD was made official.
The two organizations combined their resources to handle a wide variety of
specialized rescue services.
There was no cost to the town. NCCERT continued to operate on donated funds.
Both the town and NCCERT, with 20 volunteers and President Mack Morgan,
expected to benefit from the partnership.
The NCERT vehicles were stored at Apex
fire stations 1, 2, and 3.
The town also provided NCCERT with an office
trailer at Station 2.
Some of the NCCERT vehicles were also re-lettered
for Apex FD, notable the heavy rescue truck.
Terms of the agreement included:
Town would house equipment
Town would maintain equipment
Town would provided office space for NCCERT
Firefighters would provided personnel
Fire department would become a member of Task Force 4.
The agreement gave Apex FD access to:
one rescue truck
one water rescue response vehicle
two water rescue boats
one all-terrain vehicle
one communications truck
numerous types of equipment for trench and collapse rescues
three search canines, with four more in training.
Vehicles housed at Apex Station 3 were:
1992 International/3D heavy rescue truck.
2002 Pace cargo trailer, two-axle, with trench rescue supplies.
2002002 Pace cargo trailer, two-axle, with structural collapse rescue
Other vehicles in the fleet were:
1999 Ford F-350 4x4 crew cab pick-up with camper shell. Command unit and
tow vehicle. i>
1996 Ford F-350 "Squad 51" style utility truck. Water rescue unit and
1994 Ford E-350/_____ modular ambulance. Converted to communications
202002 Haulmark 14' two-axle cargo trailer, equipped with air-conditioning
unit. Canine and personnel rehab unit and other purposes.
Boats, jet skis, ATV, and trailers.
See fleet details below.
In 2006, NCCERT and the town of Apex renewed their agreement.
In April 2006, the town of Apex agreed to purchase NCCERT assets, including:
1992 rescue truck
2002 rescue trailers (two), and their equipment
flatbed cargo trailer
dive truck (panel van).
NCCERT retained possession of the team's water rescue truck, boats, boat
trailers, command vehicle, and communications unit.
Both Apex FD and
NCCERT continued to operate as part of a
Task Force 4.
By August 2007, the team's vehicle fleet as listed on their website was:
C1 - Command and Transport Vehicle
C4 - Communications Vehicle
C5 - 17' Open Water Boat
C6 - 14' Jon Boat, Aluminum
C8 - 2004 Yamaha "660 Grizzly"
C1C13 - USAR K-9 Trailer.
In/around 2011, NCCERT and Apex FD ended their partnership. By that time, NCCERT
had relocated their business office to Wendell, and their office trailer at
Station 2 was vacant. There were also logistical challenges, for NCCERT members
who lived in eastern Wake County or Johnston County, the driving distance to
Apex was significant. End the partnership was advantageous to both groups.
In 2011, NCCERT disposed of their communications unit, as increasing numbers of
responding agencies had their own units.
In 2013, Task Force 4 and three other teams were dissolved, as the state
streamlined its USAR resources.
In 2015, NCCERT changed their corporation name to NC K9 Emergency
Response Team, Inc. (NC K9 ERT).
The name was changed to eliminate confusion
with the federal Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), and those operating
in North Carolina (NC CERT).
Those programs were created after the events of
September 11, 2001, and after NCCERT was organized.
The Team Today
Today, the team operates four units: canine search, ground search, sonar
water search, and communications. They remain a non-profit charitable
organization, supported by donations, and available for statewide response at
the request of emergency agencies. They're available 24 hours a day, at the request of emergency
agencies. They also work to promote understanding and public awareness of the
role of search dogs, through demonstrations and lectures to local and state
agencies, schools, and retirement and rest homes.
Courtesy NCCERT and Apex Fire Department
NCCERT Fleet Vehicles in 2004
Fleet information, June 2004:
1999 Ford F350 Crew Cab 4x4 Dual Wheel
Personnel & Equipment, Tow Vehicle
GPS, Computer (online), VHF, UHF Radios
1996 Ford F350 w/Utility Bed
Water Search & Rescue, Tow Vehicle, Dive
Water Safety Equipment (Personnel), Ropes & Rigging,
Underwater Camera, Medical Equipment
1992 International Truck w/16' body Roll up Doors
Heavy Rescue (Vehicle Extrication, Low & High angle
Confined Space and as a Support Unit for Trench Collapse
On board 12kw Generator, Portable Lighting, Electrical
On board & Portable Hydraulic Pumps for Hurst Rescue
1994 Ford E350 (Converted Ambulance)
Interoperability for Interagency Operations, Searches,
Disasters, Special Events
2002 Pace Enclosed Cargo W/side door & rear ramp door
Transport required equipment used in Trench Collapse
51-Airshore Struts (pneumatic), 10-Shorform Panels,
Ingersol-Rand Air Compressor, Air Tools, Saws, (Manual &
2-Air Knife for emergency excavations, 2-Portable Pumps,
2002 Pace Enclosed Cargo W/side door & rear ramp door
Portable Air Compressor, Portable Generator, Pneumatic Nailers,
Electric Power Tools, Hand Tools, Shoring Materials, Stanley
Hydraulic Pump, 1-35lb, 2-45lb, 1-90lb Breakers, Air
Hammer Drill, 3-Set Cordless Power Tools, Paretech Low & High pressure
Hydraulic Jacks, High Lift Jacks, Measuring and Marking
2003 Haulmark 14' Enclosed Trailer
Canine & Personnel Rehab Unit,
Mini Ops Command
Logistical & Equipment Transport
Heat & Air Condition, 4.5 kw Honda
Quiet Gen (EU-4500)80 amp Converter, Snake Eye Camera,
Hole Saw (Gas)
Other rescue squads no longer operating in Forsyth County include:
Kernersville Rescue Squad
Organized in the 1970s or earlier.
Articles of Incorporation
filed on February 6, 1979.
Corporate name change filed on April 18, 2008, to
Carolina Rescue and Emergency Medical Transport, Inc.
Ceased operation in Forsyth County, with medical response and rescue
duties handled by Kernersville Fire Department.
Early ambulance, loaned to Mineral Springs Fire Department in 1987. Courtesy
Mineral Springs Fire Department.
Southeast Winston Rescue Squad - Station 4
1950s, late - Organized as the Citizens
Radio Club. Members used personal vehicles to come to the aid of citizens in
the southeast community.
1962, October - Organized again as Air King
Rescue Squad. Name derived from their hobby as citizens band radio
operations. Purchased a van with equipment for
transporting patients and were housed in old Fire Station 4 on Dunleith
1970 - Ground broken for a new headquarters at 2640 New Walkertown
Road. The one-story block building occupied a 0.63 acre lot, and was still
standing as of 2017.
1971, January 20 - Articles of Incorporation filed with state.
1975c - By mid-1970s, participation in squad had started to wane.
1977 - Squad forced to stop operations, as they didn't meet state
requirements that its members were Emergency Medical Technicians. Squad was
inactive from 1977 to 1981.
1981 - Reorganized as Southeast Winston
Rescue Squad. Purchased an ambulance with a grant from the Z. Smith
Reynolds Foundation. Relocated to a small building on Diggs Boulevard.
1981, March 23 - Corporate name change filed with state.
1983, June - By that time had become one of the busiest rescue units in the
county, serving a population of 30,985 in a ten square-mile area. They
answered up to eight calls a day. They also assisted Forsyth County EMS,
which answered calls in their district with just two EMS employees. It cost
$22,000 to keep the 26-member squad operating, and pay rent on their small
building on Diggs Boulevard.
1985 - Begins receiving funding from
United Way of Forsyth County. They didn't charge for their services, and
relied on grants and community fundraising. (Alternate year 1983.)
1992 - Responds to 2,500 emergency calls that year. Its main
territory was East Winston, southeast Winston-Salem, and the Happy Hills
1993, June - Squad has sixteen members trained as EMTs.
Ceased operation after Winston-Salem FD took over medical response
within the city limits.
Squad building in 1974, left
Squad membership in 1974 was all African-American.
"Volunteers Help Give Lives through Gift of Giving," June 24, 1993.
"Rescue Squad Reaches Half its Goal", February
Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
1937 - Founded, first in the state, and one of the first in the country.
1947 - Incorporated.
Evolved over the years and decades from "men [who] taught basic first
aid, to EMTs [that] taught the most up to date life saving skills, [rescue
trucks with] heavy cumbersome Jaws of Life to the current modern light
weight Hurst equipment, [and the addition of] Dive Teams, Large Animal
Rescue Teams, Confined Space Teams, High Angle Rescue Teams, Trench and
Late 2000s - By that time, call volume had greatly decreased. The squad once answered
3,000 calls a year, and at a time when all the squads in the county answered
10,000 calls a year.
2009 - By that year, squad answered a little over 100 calls a
year. They were evenly distributed between human rescue, animal rescue, and
medical stand by.
2009 - WSRS and Forsyth County EMS conduct negotiations for months,
to add the squad and its members to the county EMS system.
2009, December 21 - County commissioners approve agreement to transfer members and assets to
2010, January 1 - WSRS merged with FCEMS. The volunteer members, which numbered near forty,
became EMS reserves. They continued to perform specialized rescue duties,
and also helped EMS on many calls.
2013 - Discussions conducted through the year to find a new home
for former WCRS members, who were controlled under the Forsyth County
Emergency Services Reserve program. The new home was proposed at Mineral
Springs Volunteer Fire and Rescue (MSVFR), and their board conducted
discussions with the WCRS board, and FCEMS.
2013, fall - Discussions are finalized. Rescue 603 and the
animal rescue trailer, and all active membership, will become part of
2014, January 1 - Merger made effective. The old WCRS
building, Station 6, is closed after nearly 76 years of service.