Search & Rescue: North Shore {tv series review}

Often as we’re hiking, I talk to my kids about safety. We watch for trail markers, point out landmarks such as lakes and rivers, and discuss what to do if we meet a bear or wild animal. Recently, a TV mini series gave us another opportunity to talk about safely enjoying the great outdoors. Search and Rescue: North Shore follows various calls for help and their resulting rescues in the Vancouver area.

Shore and Rescue North Shore TV series

Search and Rescue: North Shore

This five-part Knowledge Original series follows the heroic members of Canada’s busiest volunteer search and rescue team as they set off by foot and helicopter to rescue people from the rugged wilderness of North Vancouver. Along the way, we meet various members of the search and rescue teams and find out what their day jobs are and what attracts them to this tough volunteer work. We also see all the efforts that go into a rescue, from the teams walking in on foot to the helicopter hovering above, preparing to lift a team out of a dangerous or hard-to-reach spot.

While some rescue calls were simple—two friends who started hiking too late and too little prepared and simply got lost until found by the team hours later—others have sad endings. The TV series also discussed “cold cases,” or missing hikers or snowboarders who’ve never been found. (If you are watching this TV series with younger kids, you may want to preview the episodes ahead of time to decide if they are appropriate for your family.)

This show reminded me that even if we’re going for a short hike, we should make sure that we have adequate water, snacks, and a first aid kit; that someone knows where we are going and when we’ll be back; and that we stick to the trail (and have done some research on that trail before starting out). Many of the rescues would have been avoided if a little more prep had been done ahead of time.

Sunshine and Lily pretty much binge-watched this TV series. We’ve hiked many trails in the North Shore, so it was interesting to watch a TV show being filmed in “our backyard.” Even if we haven’t hiked the exact trails shown in the TV episodes, the terrain was familiar. Each episode is professionally filmed and edited, and left us on the edge of our seats, waiting to find out what happened—and wanting more.

Clifftop Rescue

Lily wrote a short story based on one of the rescues in Episode 3. While her story has a happy ending, the real-life rescue unfortunately didn’t.

“C’mon, boy,” Emily Carter called to her dog, Alex, a beautiful golden retriever. As he pushed past her, she felt his soft golden fur brush against her leg. He strained at his leash, pulling Emily forward. She laughed and walked happily along behind him as he scrambled up the rocks, stopping here and there to sniff at things.

This was one of their favorite trails, leading high up the mountain to an amazing viewpoint. Birds twittered in the trees and a squirrel sat on a log just off the trail. Alex’s ears perked up, and he looked hopefully towards it, but Emily tugged at his leash. He turned and trotted after her.

Soon the trees thinned, and they emerged onto the top of the cliff. Emily tied Alex’s leash to the bench and went to take some pictures of the view. Suddenly, she heard excited barking. She turned just in time to see Alex dash into the bushes after a squirrel.

“No, boy!” she called, chasing him. He headed towards the cliff.

“Alex, stop!” she shouted. But it was too late. He let out a startled yip as he went over the edge.

“Alex!” Emily sobbed. A bark came from below.

“Alex?” she half whispered, stepping to the edge and peering down. About ten feet down there was a ledge, and on it sat Alex. He was whimpering and licking a bleeding paw, but otherwise unharmed.

Suddenly, the earth slipped and gave way under her feet, and Emily fell down, landing with a jarring thud on the ledge. Alex limped over and barked mournfully, holding up his injured paw. Emily stroked his back as she gently lifted the paw. There was a gash on the top, but it didn’t look too deep. She slowly stood and walked over to the cliff. After several failed attempts to climb it, she sat down and pulled out her phone. The screen was fine, but it wouldn’t turn on.

She turned and sat staring at the wall. She looked at the place where she had tried to climb before, then looked at the rest of the cliff. At the other end of the ledge was another place she could climb. She stood and walked over to it. Carefully choosing hand and foot holds that would get her to the top, Emily started her climb. When she was almost to the top her hand slipped, and she fell backwards with a scream. She landed on her back on the ledge. There was a brushing noise, and then someone peered over the ledge at her.

“Are you okay?” the girl asked.

“Yeah,” Emily replied shakily, standing and brushing off her clothes. “But that’s gonna bruise nicely.”

“How did you get down there?”

“My dog got off his leash and ran into the bushes. Then I slipped and fell. I can’t climb up, I’ve tried,”

“Okay, I’m calling Mountain Rescue,” the girl said. “I’m Jenna, by the way,”

“I’m Emily.”

There was silence as Jenna dialed Mountain Rescue and then spoke for a few minutes. There were a few questions, but it was pretty straight-forward.

“Okay, they’re on their way,” she called.

“Okay. If you could grab my bag and Alex’s leash off the bench, that would be great,” Emily called back. Jenna left and came back after a minute with the bag and leash. She clipped the leash to the bag and lowered it down.

“Thanks!” Emily called. She tugged on her sweater and pulled out her water bottle.

In a few minutes, a rescue team arrived in a helicopter. They pulled Emily and Alex up the cliff, and the nurse checked them over. Then everyone bundled into the helicopter, and the team took them back to base. There a professional vet checked on Alex’s paw. She bandaged it and told them it would be okay in a few days.

Search and RescueNorth Shore is available to watch for free on Knowledge Network. There are also numerous “extras” featuring other aspects of search and rescue, including a spotlight on the women on the team and why the volunteers do what they do.

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