Combined Agency Response Team

Technical rescue has moved to the forefront recently within the fire service due to the events of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. This type of specialized training is highly complex, involved and physically demanding. We currently have instructors who can conduct basic level courses in-house, however we lack certain capabilities, materials and props for more advanced training.

 To assist with training our personnel in this area, and to provide resources during responses, our department has joined the regional rescue orgainzation known as CART. The Combined Agency Response Team is an organization of fire departments, predominantly within the Northern part of the State of Illinois, who have joined forces to provide equipment and personnel for technical rescue situations. This would include building collapse, confined space rescue, trench collapse and elevated or vertical rescue situations.

Our department is a member of the Gray CART team and as such, trains with the member departments on a monthly basis. Training is generally held on the first Friday and Saturday of the month and the training location generally moves from department to department on a rotating bais. The Gray CART team includes members from the following communities:

Chicago Heights
Crete Township
Park Forest
Richton Park
Sauk Village
S. Chicago Heights
Steger Estates
University Park

 Formed in 1993 after a trench rescue emergency, the founding members recognized the immense task of providing technical rescue services was too big for any one department. CART began with 9 initial members and has grown through the years to encompass over 50 departments on 9 regional teams. It is the goal of the CART organization to provide equipment and trained rescuers to local technical rescue incidents in an emergency response capacity. CART is composed of Active and Associate teams. Active teams provide personnel and equipment for responses and as a result pay reduced dues. Associate teams have no personnel or equipment committed to the teams and thus pay a significantly higher level of dues.

Listed below are the eight teams that make up the CART organization and some of the communities they serve:

East Joliet, Frankfort, Bourbonnais
Alsip, Orland Park, Palos Heights
See list above
Homer, Joliet, Lockport
Oswego, Sandwich
Coal City, Minooka, Plainfield
Burbank, Oak Lawn, Roberts Park
Lisle-Woodridge, Downers Grove

Among the incidents that inspired the formation of CART was the Plainfield tornado. At this incident in August of 1990, 160 fire departments responded with over 200 pieces of apparatus, but no formal technical rescue units were available at this time to respond. In contrast, at the March 15, 1999 Amtrak Train Wreck in Bourbonnais, CART was able to place 160 technical rescue personnel on scene in 1 hour to assist in this horrific incident. In addition, CART provided a wide variety of special technical rescue equipment for use at this incident.

In addition to providing personnel and equipment, CART has been a moving force in the technical rescue arena within the state. CART members sit on numerous committees for the Office of the State Fire Marshal, are instructors for the Illinois Fire Service Institute and have been working with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

CART strives to maintain documented skill levels within its teams with a process known as validation. Each year teams must demonstrate their skills and knowledge in multiple disciplines within technical rescue to continue with the organization as an active team.

 The CART organization is dispatched locally and by Orland Central Dispatch for more complex incidents. Each team when activated is backed up by no less than one other team in the event additional personnel or equipment is required. In the event a large-scale incident occurs, CART will also activate its own command and control office in Homer Township to help coordinate the activity of all CART members involved.

Hopefully, CART will be like an insurance policy for the Fire Department and the Village. Additional protection available at a reasonable cost, that may never be needed. But should a technical rescue incident occur within our Village, CART stands ready to assist with an almost limitless supply of equipment and personnel.

Link to CART website -