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UC Rescue

06 December 2023

UC has operated a civil defence rescue capability since 1975. From on-campus security to fire evacuation support, we provide a range of emergency response services. Find out about UC Rescue.


The University of Canterbury has operated a civil defence rescue capability since 1975 (See UC Rescue history PDF 86MB).

Over the years it has operated essentially as a workplace disaster response capability to support health and safety obligations. With a membership comprised of staff, the team has trained to national standards including the USAR Responder (Category 1R) "Orange Card".

In the devastating February 2011 earthquake, UC Rescue was deployed to the "red zone" of the central city as part of the national urban search and rescue efforts. During this time, UC Rescue was assigned to work alongside the Taiwan Special Rescue Task Force.

In 2013, the team was reorganised to become UC Community Rescue (branded as UC Rescue) and membership eligibilty changed to include undergraduate students. To enable the team to become a regional and national community response asset, UC Rescue is seeking community funding to resource the team over and above basic workplace emergency response team requirements (which the University funds).

UC Rescue is comprised of two elements: a support crew that provides on-campus emergency response and support services, and a response team which is able to respond to both on and off-campus emergencies. The response team may be deployed to off-campus emergencies (which are generally declared states of civil defence emergency) at the request of the affected area and with the deployment authorisation of the Univeristy.


What do we do?

UC Rescue provides a range of emergency response services including:

  • On-campus security and fire evacuation support
  • Reconnaissance and survey of disaster affected areas
  • Disaster surface search and rescue (light rescue)
  • First aid, Automated External Defibrillator (AED) operation and mass casualty triage
  • Assisting emergency services when required
  • Assisting international USAR teams deployed within NZ
  • Supporting the UC Emergency Management programme, including security support


Join us
  • If you want more information about joining UC Rescue, visit our recruiting page.


Follow us
  • We welcome friends and members of UC Rescue to join our facebook page.
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