A rescue squad is a specific public service organization for rescue operations in a community, or a specific unit within a fire department or fire protection district. In Illinois, most rescue squads operate as a unit as part of a fire department or fire protection district.


Some rescue units use small rescue trucks that accompany most EMS calls with the ambulance. Heavy rescue units utilize larger trucks with specialized rescue equipment prepared to perform heavy extrication, as in crashes involving semi-trailer trucks and smaller vehicles on an expressway. They are giant toolboxes on wheels that are often brought right to the area of operation -- within feet. The equipment is prepared to stabilize vehicles, and cut and spread steel and other vehicle materials to free people from entrapment. Squad personnel in fire departments or fire protections districts are also prepared to go to work on regular or specific fireground operations.

Some large city units, such as Chicago Fire Department Squad 5 (above) cover large districts of the city -- prepared to respond to all major fire calls, crashes and other major incidents. The Chicago squad uses two vehicles, as described in the caption above.

Some smaller rural community rescue squads are primarily more economical EMS response units operating from ambulances. They are available for quick response locally for the majority of EMS calls, and coordinate operations with nearby larger fire departments or fire protection districts when heavy rescue is required or more complicated operations are necessary.

Specialized Units … developing …
Communications Van
Crash Tender
Decontamination Unit
Dive Team/Water Rescue/Boat
HazMat Truck
Technical Rescue Truck
Ventilation Unit

Dive Rescue

Collapse Rescue

High-Angle Rescue

Technical Rescue Team


Recovery Vehicles
Often private towing companies assist with rescue or lifting of vehicles, especially trucks off of cars. Ernie's, Hillside, O'Hare Towing are just a few of the recovery towing companies that respond to emergencies and rescue operations on road, highways, and interstates.

Railroad Recovery
Railroad companies may have their own dedicated heavy rescue squads or contract out to  For example, railway rescue squads may carry very specialized equipment for railway accidents like hydraulic jacks with capacity for lifting locomotives or even moving them horizontally, and equipment for tank car accidents.

Hulcher Services has 35 divisions strategically located across the United States, according to their official website. The provide full services to restore railroads in the United States, Canada, and Mexico (See Hulcher Services).