Technical Rescue

National Rescue Unit

Wellington SPCA’s National Rescue Unit (NRU) comprises of a group of internationally qualified emergency response volunteers who provide a technical rescue service for trapped animals, as well as responding to disasters that may strike.

The volunteer unit of 8-12 technicians is comprised is capable to respond to the following technical rescue incidents involving animals:

  • Flood & swiftwater
  • Confined spaces (such as under houses, storm drains etc)
  • High and low angle (height rescues such as trees, buildings, cliffs)
  • Urban disasters (USAR/earthquakes)
  • Large animal rescues (horses, cattle etc)
  • Rural Fire (animal evacuation support only)


The NRU has an impressive array of specialist resources including:

  • Rescue Trailer and Hyundai iLoad 6 seater van
  • Rapid Deployment Craft (RDC) with 2.5hp engine
  • Access to Inflatable Rescue Boat (4.2m) with 30hp engine
  • Large animal rescue harness, slings and strop guides
  • AC hot stick – electricity detection wand
  • Gas detectors (2x 4-sensor) units
  • Confined space tripod and type II retrieval system
  • Search/Inspection cameras
  • Technical Personal Floatation Devices PFDs (and canine PFDs)
  • Pre-Hospital Emergency Care kit with oxygen and AED
  • High angle rope cache with over 200m twin line access capacity
  • Ground picket anchor system
  • Canine rescue harnesses and muzzles
  • Intrinsically safe torches and Hytera EX UHF radios
  • Portable radios (UHF, VHF and VHF Air-Ground) and VHF repeater
  • Ladders (extension and gorilla type)
  • 2.4kva generator and lighting systems
  • InReach satellite messenger and duress system
  • Reach and Rescue Pole System
  • Team welfare supplies (food and water) including solar and 12v shower


  • SPCA Inspectors & Auxiliary Officers (appointed under the Animal Welfare Act 1999)
  • Rescue 3 International: Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Technicians
  • Rescue 3 International: Animal Rescue Technicians (Level I and II)
  • Rescue 3 International: Swiftwater & Flood Rescue Boat Operators
  • NZQA or Rescue 3 Confined Space Entry certification
  • NZQA Pre-Hospital Emergency Care/Emergency Medical Responders
  • NZQA Helicopter safety trained (US20388)
  • NZQA Rural Fire safety trained (US3285)
  • Massey University or Rescue 3 Technical Large Animal Rescue certification
  • NZUSAR Responder (CAT1R) certification
  • Coordinated Incident Management System trained to Level 2 and 4
  • Diploma level qualified Veterinary Nurse
  • Coastguard Day Skipper & VHF Operator certifications
We also work with a wide variety of agencies and organisations to achieve the best result for animals in hazardous environments, such as civil defence response teams.

Selection into the unit is highly competitive with generally only l0% of applicants being recruited for the Animal Rescue Technician (ARTech) course (three weekends) before being placed on probation for 12 months. Unit members volunteer in excess of 20 hours a month with on-going training, exercises, maintenance and meetings.

The NRU provides an excellent pathway for volunteers to gain experience working as part of the wider inspectorate. If you are considering a career as an SPCA Inspector or with local animal management services consider taking the first step, and signing up to be a Wellington SPCA volunteer today.

The NRU prefers to recruit from active Wellington SPCA Emergency Reservists.

Apply now