North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team

NCHART is a highly specialized team that combines N.C. National Guard and N.C. State Highway Patrol helicopters with local rescue technicians to conduct helicopter-based rescues. Examples of NCHART missions include: persons trapped by floodwaters, people lost in hard-to-reach areas, or those with severe injuries needing immediate medical attention. 

The NCHART program uses three distinct aviation assets depending on the event: the UH-60 Blackhawk or UH-72 Lakota from the NCNG, or the Highway Patrol's Bell-407. HART rescue technicians are chosen based on stringent prerequisite training, as well as a rigorous physical fitness evaluation. The candidates then must pass a 50-hour intensive indoctrination course to be considered for the team. Teams train on a quarterly basis in various skills ranging from swiftwater/flood rescue to high angle and wilderness rescue. Currently, there are 47 rescuers assigned to the program.

NCHART can respond at the request of a local emergency management coordinator or NCEM Area Coordinator upon approval by the NCEM Duty Officer. 


Each of the three aviation teams trains monthly with rescue technicians to maintain qualification in all four levels of mission complexity. All NCHART training is performed as a progression, from the most basic Level 4 training to the most complex Level 1. Each crewmember is required to remain current in each mission area to be qualified to work that specific mission type.

  • Level 4 - the most basic missions; includes day/night operations in open, land-based areas with limited confinement, such as simple hoists or short-haul operations.
  • Level 3 - the most basic water operations; includes day/night operations in open, still-water areas with limited confinement. Missions include the most basic water operations for hoist or short-haul operations.
  • Level 2 - confined, land-based rescues where extremely precise operations are required, such as day/night rescues from cliffs, buildings, windows, or trees.
  • Level 1 - the most complex helicopter rescues; includes day/night operations in moving water where the entire rescue is performed in a dynamic environment that may/may not also be in a confined area. These rescues require extreme precision and coordination between all crew members to safely execute the mission.

NCHART also provides training from ground-based support members through the NCHART Operational Support Specialist Class. This training is targeted to local response personnel and provides a basic understanding of the program capabilities, limitations and requirements to perform a helicopter-based rescue. Curriculum includes important information about safety considerations, contingency planning and operational requirements of NCHART.  


NCHART can respond to requests from local emergency management coordinators or NCEM Area Coordinators upon approval by the NCEM director and state air boss.  Providing as much information as possible on the NCHART Mission Request Form will better prepare the enroute resource to effect a safe and efficient rescue.  At a minimum the Requesting Agency must provide an incident location and contact information for the Incident Commander or Air Operations Branch Manager.

Examples of NCHART missions:

  • Swiftwater / Flood Rescue
  • Urban Rescue
  • Wilderness Rescue
  • Mountain Rescue
  • High Angle Rescue

Requirements for deployment:

  • Resources are not available locally
  • Mission is for rescue and not recovery
  • Longer than 3-4 hours for other type of access and recovery
  • Patient has life-threatening injuries
  • There are excessive risks to rescue personnel

Required mission information:

  • Radio frequency for scene
  • Number of survivors
  • Survivors condition
  • Terrain / rescue site hazards

Joining NCHART

No new candidate applications are being accepted at this time. 

NCHART rescue technicians must first be members of a local response organization that participates in one of the five state search and rescue programs. Then, when there is an opening on NC HART, notifications are sent to all current team/taskforce leaders providing details and a timeline for interested applicants. 

Potential candidates are first evaluated and scored using the NCHART CPAT. Candidates also submit relative certifications as well as recommendations from their chief or team/taskforce leader at this point.

During the next phase, candidates complete a 50-hour HART indoctrination course which teaches all of the foundational skills of being a NCHART technician. This includes completing the NCHART Taskbook for Helicopter Search & Rescue Technicians. Upon successful completion of this course, candidates are considered NCHART technicians in a non-deployable status.

New technicians are then assigned to one of the three platforms (ie. aircraft) and begin to attend monthly trainings. Once the technicians become proficient in the four training areas, then they are released to full status. This can take up to a year and is solely based on skill progression of the new technician.


More Information

Helicopter Rescue & Response Association

NC HART Mission Request Form


« this page last modified 08/25/15 »