The Rescue and Technical Support Team (the RATS) is a volunteer Civil Defence response team. The team of volunteers are highly motivated and skilled at assisting Canterbury communities during Civil Defence emergencies. The team, if requested, can also support the emergency services in their normal daily duties.
The team is owned by Environment Canterbury on behalf of the Canterbury CDEM Group. It is also supported by its own charitable trust, the Rescue and Technical Support Team Trust.
In May 2003 the team became the first team to be registered nationally as a New Zealand Response Team. Designated as NZ-RT 1, the team is available to support any other area in New Zealand in response to an emergency.
Updates and activities
For updates and coverage of what the R.A.T.S team has been up to lately, check out their Facebook page.
We train hard and regularly so we can provide service to our community in time of need.
Late in October 2021, volunteers from New Zealand Response Team 1 - the RATs - took part in a one day training exercise as part of their ongoing training.
The team was made up of approximately half longer standing team members and half newer recruits. This was a valuable opportunity for the team to work together and integrate the newer members into a 'full noise' exercise.
The team was based at one of the Airport Fire Service Training sites for the morning and successfully completed 3 taskings.
The RATs wish to thank the Airport Fire Service for the use of their site and the Voluntary Victims group, organised through Doug Winter from NZ Red Cross, for supplying us 6 excellent actors/volunteer casualties.
The afternoon saw the team convoy out to one of the team members properties in the North Canterbury region where, after a quick lunch stop, another 2 taskings had to be completed.
Finally, the exercise concluded with a social BBQ, with a special thanks to Ray Davey for hosting his team in the afternoon and putting on an excellent BBQ.
What a fun day as part of the great mahi the RATs undertake in service of communities across Canterbury and further afield!
Ian Craig had a major impact on rescue and emergency response locally, regionally and nationally.
Ian began the development of this legacy as a dog handler with the New Zealand Red Cross Search Dog Unit. While he quickly moved on to be the Team Leader of the local Emergency Relief Team, Ian's belief of the value of search dogs continued and he was instrumental in the development and implementation of national USAR dog standards.
In 1996 Ian was appointed the Chief Rescue Instructor for Environment Canterbury Civil Defence. At this time, he also started the Rescue and Technical Support Team. The R.A.T.S, under his leadership, developed skills in many areas and are recognised for bringing the term "professional volunteers" into reality. Soon after Ian's death the R.A.T.S received accreditation as the first registered USAR Response Team and the members wear NZ-RT1 badge in Ian's honour.
With the more recent development of a national Urban Search and Rescue structure, Ian was involved with the National Training and Standards Working Group. In this forum the concept of the "Orange Card" was developed and Ian himself was one of the first recipients of this USAR Responder qualification. He was also played an integral role in the development of national training courses and assessment for instructors consistent with his strong personal belief on the need for high standards of training for all involved with rescue and response. In 2001 Ian completed the Category 2 USAR Technician's course and was a member of USAR Taskforce 2.
While this is only a snapshot of Ian's personal achievements, what he will also be remembered for is his ability to inspire others. His passion for rescue and the need to have a well-prepared community, and his belief in the role of volunteers attracted many to become involved. He was a friend and mentor to many.
Rest in Peace.