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North Shore Rescue series returns to the air on Knowledge Network

Season 2 promises stunning visuals, dramatic rescues and emotional moments

A traumatic day in B.C. history. A life-and-death cardiac event on a distant summit. A daring helicopter rescue as darkness falls on the North Shore Mountains. And that’s just the first episode.

Season 2 of Search and Rescue: North Shore, the much-anticipated docuseries, returns to the Knowledge Network May 28, bringing another stunning and candid look at the work of B.C.’s backcountry heroes.

The show opens with the morning after the November 2021 atmospheric river that flooded the Sumas Prairie area of the Fraser Valley. Series director Grant Baldwin was there, capturing the scene as a Talon Helicopter crew lowered North Shore Rescue members down to the flooded homes of seniors and families, bringing 50 people back to safety.

After untold thousands of hours of filming and editing, Baldwin is eager for British Columbians to see that and other harrowing efforts captured by his and cinematographer Ian Christie’s lenses.

“There’s definitely some dramatic stuff in this one. There are a couple incredible survival stories,” he said.

North Shore Rescue volunteers help in the rescue efforts following the 2021 atmospheric river that caused flooding in the Fraser Valley. | Courtesy of Silvapark Films. 

A tall order

When he finished the first season in 2020, Baldwin said it had been so exhausting keeping up with the rescue team, a second season wasn’t something he was ready to contemplate.

But as the series began to air, he was overwhelmed by the positive feedback. And then he came upon “the arc of the covenant” – a cache of archival footage and photos from the early days of the team that was too good to leave on a shelf.

After the worst of the pandemic had passed, Baldwin and his crew rejoined North Shore Rescue and added a second unit embedded with Squamish Search and Rescue. It made the work even more strenuous, he said, but it was important to showcase the good work of SAR teams elsewhere in B.C.

As a documentarian following North Shore Rescue for long stretches since 2018, Baldwin has been witness to a lot of change in the technology and tactics the team uses, but also in the lives of the members.

Some have aged out of active searches but remain committed in other tasks. Others who were just recruits in the last season are now invaluable members and future leaders, Baldwin said.

Viewers can expect to see the same jaw-dropping shots of North Shore’s rugged landscape behind the mountain peaks and as well as stylistic flourish of helicopters racing across the Vancouver skyline.

The team’s elder statesmen, including Dave and Gerry Brewer, and current team leader Mike Danks’ father Allan Danks, are back, sharing stories from the earliest days of North Shore Rescue.

Watch the Season 2 trailer here:

Emotional rescue

As North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks and his daughter watched a preview screening of the show together, it was a deeply moving experience, he said.

In fact, what stood out on screen over the five episodes was how Baldwin and the crew captured and humanely portrayed the emotions of everyone involved, Danks said.

“The fact that they were able to document all of this work that went on behind the scenes, and to allow people to see that in such a beautiful way is just incredible,” he said. “I can’t emphasize enough how fortunate I feel we’ve been to have them as a part of our team, to be able to share the story of search and rescue not only on the North Shore but with Squamish as well, painting the picture for everybody in this province that this is what your volunteers are doing.”

Both Danks and Baldwin warned firmly though against showing the series to younger kids. Not every mission results in a subject coming home alive, and the show reflects that. Sometimes graphically.

“It’s not a reality show,” Baldwin said. “It’s real.”

Rescue volunteers suffer from trauma like anyone else, particularly when there’s been a fatality, as viewers will see on screen, Danks said. But it has been therapeutic for his members to share and process their experiences through the show.

“You see what our members are going through to try to save this man’s life. They stop at nothing, and they perform like they’re in an ER in the wilderness,” he said. “It’s OK to be emotional. It’s OK to be hurting after a call. That’s a big piece of what’s in there.”

Success stories, thankfully, are far more common. And this season puts a focus on reconnecting with the folks who are alive today thanks to the North Shore and Squamish volunteers. It was clear, Baldwin said, they too were finding healing as they told their stories.

“We found that a lot of these people that go through this worst day of their life, don’t get followed up with,” he said. “One interview we did, they spoke for three hours before we even unpacked the camera, because they just needed to get it off their chest.”

There might be another reason Danks is finding that the second season of Search and Rescue: North Shore leaves a lump in his throat. The show represents one of the last times he will be seen as the public face of the province’s most famous rescue outfit.

After 10 years as team leader, Danks, who recently was promoted to become the District of North Vancouver’s fire chief, will be stepping down in June.

“Honestly… it’s a really tough one for me,” Danks said. “I’m not gonna lie. It hurts, but that’s OK.”

Danks plans to remain very active as a volunteer and he has every faith in the new team leader, who North Shore Rescue’s members will select next month.

Mike Danks
 North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks. | Brendan Meadows / Search Again Films.

All of B.C. benefits

If there’s anything viewers take away from Season 2, Baldwin said he hopes it is a wider appreciation for the fact that everything they saw on screen was carried out by volunteers, and that there are more than 80 such teams in the province.

After the first season aired, SAR teams around the province got a boost in donations, which they need to operate, Danks said. But the real value was in public education that money can’t buy.

“It’s created awareness about how easily things can go awry in the backcountry, whether you’re prepared or you’re not prepared,” he said. “For people to actually visually be able to see and experience that, I think resonates deeply.”

Danks said it made him swell with pride to see his team do their lifesaving work, knowing they all had their own family and professional commitments weighing on them, and never asking a thing in return.

“That’s the beauty of our responses. People are there because they want to be there,” he said. “Being there for the community and then being there to support each other through that journey because the experiences that you have on those calls stick with you forever. And I think you get a sense of that throughout the series.”

After two and a half years of work, Baldwin is taking some time off. He’s got other film projects he’s committed to, but for now, he’s trying to put them off as long as he can. Could yet another tour of duty in the backcountry be among them?

“You never know,” he says. “You never know.”

Season 2 of Search and Rescue: North Shore airs live on the Knowledge Network on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. starting May 28, and can also be streamed on

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