North Shore Rescue gets its own TV documentary series

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      The members of North Shore Rescue have their own television show debuting this month.

      The five-part documentary series Search and Rescue: North Shore starts November 10 on B.C.'s Knowledge Network.

      The 40 or so trained search-and-rescue volunteers who make up the North Vancouver-based North Shore Rescue (NSR) are the busiest such rescuers in Canada, setting out on about 130 missions per year in the forests, canyons, and mountains of Metro Vancouver's North Shore.

      Members of North Shore Rescue during a helicopter mission.

      The team members, on foot and by helicopter, assist police, ambulance and fire services, government emergency agencies, and other search-and-rescue teams in the province and in Washington state. 

      The nonprofit NSR is one of the oldest search-and-rescue teams in Canada, having been founded in 1965, and it doesn't charge for its services, relying instead on donations.

      In a release, Rudy Buttignol, Knowledge Network president and CEO, said the series was, if anything, overdue. "Until I moved to Vancouver years ago, I never fully understood how close the city was to the wilderness and its perils. My understanding grew with nightly reports on local news of lost hikers and tourists being rescued by a group called North Shore Rescue.

      "What I found truly surprising was that NSR was made up of all volunteers—highly skilled individuals putting their own lives at risk to help others," Buttignol said. "Heroes. That's when we decided their stories needed to be told, and Peg Leg Films was the independent production company to make it happen."

      Series director Grant Baldwin of Peg Leg Films was attached to NSR for a year and on call 24 hours a day. “I remember straddling the peak of Crown mountain at 3 a.m.," Baldwin said in the release. "The NSR team and my filming partner, Ian, were rappelling down below me to secure a fallen climber.

      "I was just clinging to the rock trying to get a stable shot with the massive rotors of a military helicopter washing down around me. I kept thinking, 'What the hell am I doing up here?' Then I remembered that the team doesn’t need to be here, either; they volunteered for this. It makes capturing this story more meaningful.”

      Synopses of the five episodes, as well as a series preview, can be seen here.