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Emergency Support Unit

ESU LogoMission Statement

It is the mission of the Emergency Support Unit (ESU) to augment regular emergency management services provided by the Office of Emergency Management during periods of actual or threatened emergencies, to conduct search and rescue operations and to assist with public events.

The Emergency Support Unit (ESU) was established in 1951 as an organization of non-paid professionals who commit their time and talent to various rescue and recovery missions, and other community projects that save the city thousands of dollars each year. The ESU works closely with many Metro departments, such as Police, Fire and Public Works on a wide range of projects.

Search and Rescue Operations

The ESU provides search teams for missing persons and ;utilize conventional ground methods as well as off road utility vehicles and conducting water search and rescue/recovery operations.

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Search and Recovery Dive Team

The Search and Recovery Dive Team is a subgroup within the Emergency Support Unit (ESU). The divers and surface support personnel are comprised of volunteers who donate their time to perform and support underwater operations. They are experienced, certified divers who answer the call for underwater searching as requested, twenty-four hours a day. Dive Team members have donated many hours of service to their community and to the city of Nashville, as well as mutual aid services to agencies outside of our county.

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Sonar Operations Team

The Emergency Support Unit within OEM has modernized its sub-surface survey and recovery capabilities and now operates one of the most advanced sonar units made. The Sonar Team was established in 2005 to tackle the special training needed to operate the Marine Sonic Side Scan Sonar unit. The ESU Sonar team uses a Marine Sonic Side Scan 600, 900, and 1200 kHz tow behind sonar unit.

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Swift Water Team

Following Nashville's record setting flooding in May of 2010, the ESU's Swift Water Team was created to organize, train, and prepare ESU members for both still and swift water flooding in and around Davidson County. ESU Members train along side Nashville Fire Department Firefighters and Medics in order to provide a uniform response effort for any event. Training includes victim rescue with and without the use of a boat, shore-based rescue, victim extraction using a high-line, and self rescue.

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Severe Weather Response

Davidson County experiences numerous damaging storms which causes havoc. During severe weather, the ESU’s assist with damage assessment, traffic control, and debris removal from streets. This minimizes the impact of the storms and hastens a return to normalcy.

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Disaster Logistics and Support

The Emergency Support Unit deploys vital equipment necessary in a disaster situation such as: generators, lighting, four and six-wheel drive vehicles and providing overall support for the emergency operation.

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Special Events

The ESU’s patrol the river, and assist with crowd/traffic control at major public events including the July 4th Celebration at Riverfront, Nashville Christmas Parade, Music City Marathon and many more. The ESU is also involved in many community events from passing out bottled water during heat waves to assisting in food collection programs.


More Information

Contact Mike Russell for more information about the Emergency Support Unit (ESU).

Metro Ordinance 2.10.0400

Metro Ordinance 2.10.0400 specifies that: The Emergency Support Unit (ESU) shall be composed of volunteers to augment regular emergency management services provided by the Office of Emergency Management during periods of actual or threatened emergencies, search and recovery operations and public events.