D.C.R.O. was formed in 1952 by local cavers and it is now one of the 15 voluntary organisations in the British Isles who provide the Police with an underground search and rescue service. To date DCRO has been called nearly 400 times and has gone to the aid of more than 400 people and around 50 animals. The number of call outs per annum fluctuates quite a lot, but the average is around half a dozen.


Almost all DCRO’s search and/or rescue operations take place in the limestone areas of the Peak District. About half take place in the caves and mines around Castleton and another third are shared more or less equally between the Eyam, Monyash and Matlock areas. Occasionally help is given to Police forces outside Derbyshire, not only to incidents in caves or mines, but also in other underground places such as wells and tunnels. Every Police force has a cave rescue organisation upon which it can call for help and because of our Base location DCRO is the closest organisation for the following Police forces – Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire (part), Derbyshire, Greater Manchester (part), Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire (part) and Warwickshire. Of course, calls to some of these counties is unlikely but we have already been called to most at least once.


The responsibility for organising and running DCRO operationally lies with the Controllers (usually around five) assisted by the Leaders (usually six to eight) and Equipment Officers (usually four). Holders of Controller and Leader posts are appointed by the Committee and are assessed annually. At most incidents a Controller will be in charge on the surface and another underground.

All DCRO’s work is carried out in support of the Police who have the primary responsibility for inland search and rescue. Calls for cave rescue should be made to the Police who will then activate DCRO by contacting the duty Controller.


DCRO’s Base and Equipment store is located in the Buxton Fire & Rescue Centre . The Rescue Vehicle is kept there together with the bulk of the equipment. The Vehicle is kept loaded with all the equipment necessary to carry out most operations and further specialised equipment (for diving, engineering etc.) can be loaded on board if required.

See the Equipment page for more info



Membership of DCRO is open to any individual or body (e.g. a caving club) with an interest in underground exploration and an ability to demonstrate an interest in the furtherance of the Organisation’s objectives.

see the Join Us page for how to apply what our requirements are


There is no subscription for individual members but member bodies are expected to pay an annual subscription (currently £20).


DCRO is run by a Committee elected annually at the A.G.M. which is usually held in April. The Committee normally meets six times a year and comprises President, Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Equipment Officer, Training Officer, Medical Officer, Deputy Officers and a number of Ordinary Committee members. It is current practice for all serving Controllers and Leaders to be co-opted onto the Committee.


It costs around £4,000 – £5000 each year to run DCRO. In addition a contingency fund of several thousand pounds has to be maintained so that major equipment losses or repairs can be remedied immediately without affecting operational viability. Most annual expenditure is on new or replacement equipment, maintenance of the vehicle, the Base and Equipment or on the training programme. Under 10% of the total is spent on administration.

Income is mostly from donations and the fund raising efforts of DCRO and its members. All Team members are invited to help with fund raising and public relations events without which a viable search and rescue service could not be sustained.

DCRO is a registered charity (No. 1017362).


DCRO is a member of the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC) which is the representative body for voluntary underground rescue organisations in the British Isles. Through the BCRC it is also affiliated to Mountain Rescue England & Wales which is the representative body for mountain rescue in England and Wales. The BCRC and MRC work closely together to represent and support their members’ interests nationally and internationally. The BCRC is represented on the UK Government’s United Kingdom Search and Rescue (UKSAR) Operators Group which includes all the primary providers of search and rescue services in the U.K. (e.g. Police, Fire, Ambulance, MoD, Coastguard, RNLI, Mountain and Lowland Rescue).


DCRO Team members are covered by three insurance policies.

The first is a personal accident insurance policy which is maintained by the Police and provides a range of possible financial benefits should a Team member sustain an injury during operations initiated by the Police or whilst attending an official DCRO training event. The benefits are amended from time to time. Any Team member wishing to know what they are currently should contact the secretary.

The second is a public liability insurance policy maintained by Mountain Rescue England & Wales and available to Team members because of DCRO’s membership of the BCRC. This policy covers Team members against third party liability claims. Broad details of the cover provided by the policy can be found on the BCRC or MREWwebsites.

The third policy is a fully comprehensive vehicle policy maintained by DCRO on the Organisation’s vehicle to cover authorised drivers.

Warning. All Team members are advised to inform their own insurers of their involvement with DCRO. Non disclosure might lead to some insurers not paying out if a Team member were to be involved in a car accident or sustain an injury during a rescue.


DCRO does not train people to cave. Anybody wishing to join DCRO in the capacity of an underground rescuer is expected to be reasonably competent and fit enough as a caver to cope with most Derbyshire cave and mine systems. They are also expected to possess their own personal caving kit including lights, SRT rigs etc.

DCRO concentrates its training in underground search and rescue techniques including casualty care and transport, rigging pitches for hauling, communications and underground engineering. Some of this training does, of course, help to improve general safe caving skills.

The training programme is arranged annually and comprises a mix of mid week evening sessions and full day sessions at weekends.

Other websites relevant to cave rescue are :

British Cave Rescue Council

United Kingdom Search and Rescue

Mountain Rescue England and Wales



DCRO volunteers receive no payment and there are no funds available for reimbursing any expenses incurred by Team members during training or search and rescue operations.


If you require any further information please contact the secretary .