History - IUCRR

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Creation of recovery diving certification and a recovery team

The IUCRR was founded in 1999, by Henry Nicholson and Robert Laird.  It's origins began at the 1982 NSS-CDS (National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section) cave diving workshop, held in Branford, Florida.   Henry Nicholson, a sheriff's department dive team leader recognized, and made the NSS-CDS aware of, the hazards facing public safety dive teams after a close call he and his team encountered.   They faced incidents demanding a police response and found themselves in situations beyond their level of training and with inadequate technical equipment.  

Given this situation, the executive committee of the NSS-CDS authorized the organization of a cave diving recovery team to be made up of law enforcement officers who were cave divers.  The goal was to train other responsible cave divers to be made available for law-enforcement agencies affected by cave-diving-type accidents.  It was acknowledged that it was critical that such a recovery team be made of a experienced cave divers of the highest quality and credibility.  And it was also apparent that it was critical for the team, during a recovery, be controlled by a law-enforcement agency.

To create such a qualified recovery team for local law-enforcement agencies and to maintain a uniform procedure that was acceptable to each agency, the NSS-CDS requested the following:

  • a program coordinator

  • instructional seminar

  • call-out list

  • method of immediate response

which were the four corners of the structure of the organization.

The NACD (National Association of Cave Divers) also created an almost identical process, and the instruction seminar created was used by both cave diver certification agencies.

The team of divers grew successfully in numbers and expertise. All of its members were formally trained as rescue/recovery diver specialists. The team initially consisted of NSS-CDS and NACD cave divers.

The formation of the IUCRR

In January 1999, the Board of Directors for the NSS-CDS and the NACD elected to remove the Rescue and Recovery Team from any one particular cave diving organization.  They agreed that it should be established as a bipartisan program to be under the joint auspices of the NSS-CDS, the NACD, and other cave diving agencies, and the IUCRR was created.

The intent of this move was to eliminate duplication, create harmony between the cave diving agencies, provide for a single-point-of-contact for Public Safety Agencies, have a single-point for consolidation of accident reports, and provide accident analysis services for the benefit of all underwater-overhead divers.  

The IUCRR adopted the same four corners of the structure, added a Law Enforcement Oversight Board, and agreed to never become a training agency.  Any and all needed training would be handled by cave diving training agencies (e.g., the NSS-CDS, NACD, etc.)

A website was created which provides information to the public on the mission of the IUCRR and contact information in case of emergencies.  Call-outs, originally done via phone, over time were updated to include pagers, then email and text messages.

For more information on the organizational structure of the IUCRR, click here.





Henry Nicholson

Jan 1999

Nov 2001


Mark Fowler

Nov 2001

Nov 2005


Ken Hill

Nov 2005


Accident Analysis




Dave Desautels


Sheck Exley


John Crea


Jeff Bozanic


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