Rats.co.nzSpecialist First Response Team to the Canterbury Region

Environment Canterbury Rescue & Technical Support

Rescue & Technical Support (the RATS) is a team of highly motivated and skilled volunteers. The team works under the framework of Environment Canterbury Civil Defence & Emergency Management, however the use of the RATS reaches beyond Civil Defence emergencies.

RATS also operate under the broader national Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) framework and became the first registered response team in New Zealand on 23rd May 2003. Our official USAR designation is NZ-RT1.

Key facts:

  • Established in 1996
  • The RATS team is made up of 21 volunteer humans and 6 volunteer dogs.
  • A primary response for adverse events and a declared emergency in the Canterbury region
  • At the disposal of the Emergency Services to assist in any response
  • Dedicated to achieving high standards of professionalism and expertise in our chosen fields 

Training focuses on the achievement of a high standard of expertise in each of these areas.
Rats Montage
A compilation of photos from when the Rats was initially set up in 1996 until more recent times.


The team has four main areas of specialisation:

1. Rope Rescue

2. General Rescue

Search Dogs

Urban Search & Rescue (USAR)

  Latest News

21 December 2010

RATS Respond to 4 September Canterbury Earthquake

7 November 2009

Waterhouse Trophy with NZ Defence Forces

6 July 08
Rats Practice Rescue in Cold & Snowing Conditions

20 April 08
RT-1's Defibrillator put to good use

12 April 08
RATS Cliff Dale Champs

6 April 08
RATS be Dammed!

23 February 08
Medical Scenarios

22 February 08
USAR Dog Weekend in Auckland

9 February 08
Coast to Coast 2008 


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Updated Wednesday, 22 December 2010