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DART Rescue Team DART Rescue Team logo.DART Rescue is a highly trained and experienced urban search and rescue team with certifications covering a wide variety of domains including: heavy rescue, collapsed structure rescue, high- & low-angle rope rescue, trench rescue, confined spaces rescue, emergency medical treatment, firefighting, hazardous materials operations, swift water rescue, search operations, and incident command systems. For the 50 team members, DART Rescue is considered a collateral duty to their primary jobs at Moffett Field.
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Point of Contact: DART Chief of Rescue Operations
, 650-604-3681

Mission and Operations

The primary mission of DART Rescue is to assist Moffett Field's day-to-day emergency responders (police and fire departments) in addressing any emergency at the Moffett Field complex. Once emergencies at Moffett Field have been addressed, the secondary mission of DART Rescue, assisting communities outside Moffett Field, may be exercised.

Moffett Field emergency services operates on a four-tier severity system, all of which use the Incident Command System (ICS). Examples of DART Rescue performing its primary mission under these four tiers are described below:

Level 4, the lowest level, corresponds with the routine day-to-day operations of the security police and fire departments. At this level, DART Rescue assistance is not required.

Level 3 corresponds to a situation in which DART personnel, specialized expertise and/or equipment are needed. In this instance, DART Rescue would perform services within the control of the on-scene fire or police commander. Examples could include assisting the fire department in a high-angle rope rescue off a wind tunnel, supporting the fire department and DART HazMat in a hazardous materials operation, or supporting security police during times of heightened security levels by providing auxiliary personnel to search vehicles accessing the facility.

Level 2 corresponds to situations requiring high degree of command and coordination. During Level 2 the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated. Incident command switches from the field to the EOC Director. In this situation, DART Rescue becomes one component of the ICS Operations command. Examples could include DART Rescue performing sandbagging operations during a flood at Moffett Field, performing medical and safety support at an air show at Moffett Field, or dealing with emergencies occurring simultaneously at multiple locations around Moffett Field.

Level 1 corresponds to a major disaster during which command and coordination is not only required amongst the various emergency services organizations at Moffett Field, but may also be needed with other organizations and agencies external to Moffett Field. As in Level 2, DART Rescue becomes one component of the ICS Operations command. An example would be a major earthquake in the area in which the Moffett Field complex must be recovered while at the same time the airfield is being used as a key arrival/departure point for emergency services personnel and supplies. In this instance DART Rescue could perform duties ranging from rescuing personnel from collapsed structures to offloading cargo aircraft arriving at the airfield.

In all of the above severity tiers, DART Rescue's command structure fits seamlessly into the pre-existing command structure. Should DART Rescue's secondary mission of assisting communities outside of Moffett Field be exercised, the DART Rescue command structure should fit seamlessly into the command structure of the community being supported. An example could be illustrated by continuing the scenario described under the Level 1 situation. Should the Moffett Field complex be sufficiently recovered after the earthquake, DART Rescue may be deployed off base to support local communities requesting our expertise and equipment. In this situation, DART Rescue would continue to be logistically supported through the Moffett Field EOC and its supporting ICS branches.

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The Team

In 1986 DART was formed as a single unit of volunteers designed to support Moffett Field during times of disaster. As the team acquired more and more certifications it became apparent that maintaining proficiency in all the specialties was too much for any individual, much less for individuals doing this work as a collateral duty. So DART broke up into the specialized sections represented today. While the team name still includes the term "rescue", which represents the focus of the original team's training, today DART capabilities have expanded significantly beyond rescue. While those of us on DART Rescue are proud of our heritage dating back to the beginnings of the team, we are excited by the expansion in capabilities of DART through the years and enjoy the camaraderie not only within our section but also between the sections of DART.

Today DART Rescue is comprised of approximately 50 personnel who represent a large cross section of the community and functions at Moffett Field. Some of the primary jobs of our members include such things as engineers, scientists, mechanics, software developers, administrators, project managers, supervisors, and even an Army Green Beret. DART Rescue members may be NASA civil servants, NASA contractors, or members of other Moffett Field resident agencies. While we may have a variety of backgrounds, we do share in common the motivation to train in technical rescue and the desire to be directly and actively involved in helping our community in times of emergency.

The DART Rescue command structure is made up of a Section Chief for Rescue Operations and four rescue squads. Each rescue squad has a squad leader (two squads also have assistant squad leaders) and 11-12 rescue specialists. Two of the rescue squads are comprised of rescue specialists who have met the requirements to obtain "DART Rescue Certification". The other two squads are made up of individuals who are obtaining the basic skills and certifications required for "DART Rescue Certification". When DART Rescue is activated, all four squads respond. While the "DART Rescue Certified" squads are expected to handle almost any situation thrown at them, the use of the training squads is limited to that commensurate with the specialized certifications of the squad members. Even brand new members work during team activation's, but their work may be limited to support activities.

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Training Requirements and Expectations

DART Rescue members who are working towards "DART Rescue Certification" are considered to be working towards obtaining the basic skills covering the large technical rescue domain of DART Rescue. As such, it is expected that these "trainees" will spend approximately 10% of their work time on DART activities. For those who have obtained "DART Rescue Certification", it is expected that they are focused on maintaining their proficiency, learning to put their skills together in a variety of scenarios, and periodically obtaining additional certifications. For these folks, it is expected that 5% of their work time will be spent on DART activities. Both of these levels of commitment are explicitly identified in the DART Charter, signed by the NASA Ames Research Center Director.

A training schedule is maintained that remains generally consistent with these work time expectations. For the training squads, regularly scheduled training's occur for four hours every other week (5%). Additionally, some full-time, multi-day certification classes are held which take up the other 5%. For those who are already "DART Rescue Certified", the primary training's are those regularly scheduled for four hours every other week.

Also, at least once a year, the entire Emergency Services capability of Moffett Field participates in a major exercise. This usually consists of a variety of scenarios aimed at exercising a variety of capabilities, identifying areas for improvement, and providing an opportunity for all the organizations to work together.

While the percentages described above account for most of the required DART activities, from time to time additional "above and beyond" time is required. This may be for air show support, weekend workdays, after work hours training, additional certifications, all hands meetings or administrative duties. It is expected that DART Rescue members will make every reasonable effort to support these "above and beyond" activities. This may require special arrangements with supervisors, spouses, and additional primary work time in order to make up for the production lost during the "above and beyond" expectations.

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DART Rescue Certification Requirements

The DART Rescue training schedule is set up so a trainee will be exposed to most of the items taught in these classes prior to attending the classes. This not only prevents the trainee from being saturated with new material in the class, but by providing students who do well in the classes, helps maintain a good DART reputation within the greater rescue community. A new recruit to DART Rescue can expect at least one and a half years before they obtain the "DART Rescue Certification".

Once a rescue specialist receives "DART Rescue Certification", the expectation is they will desire to continue to improve their rescue skills, so further training to obtained more advanced and varied certifications is encouraged. Examples of further certifications, which many DART Rescue members have today, include:

Additional Rescue Certifications

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Levels of Certification (proposed)

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Specialized Teams and Additional Opportunities

Reconnaissance Team

DART's Reconnaissance Team helps find victims in an emergency situation. There is an old saying in search and rescue … "if you can't find them, you can't rescue them". This is the job of the Reconnaissance Team.

Water Rescue Team

For those members who obtain "DART Rescue Certification" and still can not get enough of this business, there are additional opportunities available. DART Rescue has an auxiliary team for Water Rescue. In fact, it has matured since its inception in 1997 to a capability that warrants it own web page.

California Task Force 3

DART Rescue also supports California Task Force 3 (CA-TF3) Urban Search and Rescue team. CA-TF3 is a federally supported US&R team sponsored by Menlo Park Fire Protection District with participation by fire departments, organizations, and individuals from throughout the Silicon Valley and the Peninsula. CA-TF3 is tasked to respond to emergency events throughout the United States and its territories. By agreement between NASA and CA-TF3, DART provides members to fill a variety of disciplines on CA-TF3. Those members of DART, who obtain "DART Rescue Certification" plus a few other certifications required by CA-TF3, may apply to the DART Chief for one of the positions on CA-TF3. This provides an increased opportunity to DART personnel to apply the skills they have learned to help the greater community of the entire United States of America.


As might be expected for a team whose specialties cover such a wide spectrum of technical rescue domains, DART Rescue has a large cache of equipment. Some of the key items include:

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How to Join DART Rescue

If you've come this far, you must be excited by what you've read and seen so far. We can't blame you. All of us DART folks have been captured by the same feelings. That's a great start. In fact, it's a minimum requirement. You must be excited, motivated, and energetic because as you can see, this is a big commitment. So what do you have to do to join?

First off, you have to be working at Moffett Field as either a NASA civil servant, a NASA contractor, or be employed by one of the Moffett Field resident agencies. I'm sorry this is a requirement because we have a lot of interested people who don't meet this requirement. We'd love to have them, but we must have the ability to claim "rights" to you when a disaster hits. That's hard to do if you don't work for us. If you do meet this requirement, here are the steps to take:

  1. Fill out the DART members Personal Information Form (PIF)
    (The PIF is a PDF document requiring Adobe Reader. See below for how to obtain Adobe Reader).
  2. Contact the to set up an interview. During the interview the training officer will find out about you and you can find out more about DART. You'll also be asked to turn in your filled out PIF. If you identify any previous certifications on the PIF, please bring copies of those certifications to give to the training officer for DART records. The training officer will also provide a Letter of Appointment for you and your boss to sign.
  3. If at this point you are still interested (and we expect you will be…even more than before), talk to your family or significant other. Even though it may be you joining the team, this is a family commitment. After all, when an emergency occurs, you'll be expected to leave your family while you come work for us. You may be away from them for weeks. Don't make the disaster the first time this discussion comes up!
  4. Contact the to set up another interview. You'll find out more about DART Rescue in particular and you'll plan how to integrate into the team.
  5. Talk to your employer. This needs to be made a collateral duty to your job and it requires the support of your employer. Your employer will also be required to sign the Letter of Appointment.
  6. Return the Letter of Appointment to the training officer.
  7. Contact the squad leader of the squad to which you are assigned to find out about the next practice and training. You'll also make arrangements to obtain basic safety gear. Then your training starts.
  8. If after you've attended some training and you still feel that DART Rescue is for you, we'll make arrangements to issue you more equipment and the DART uniform. Congratulations! You're now a member of DART Rescue!

If you don't have Adobe Reader to view the PIF, get it free from the Adobe website. Link to get Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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