The team was founded in September 1965 while the Mountain Rescue Group was disbanding. It was initially established as a heavy urban search and rescue unit to assist with Civil Defense activities in case the Russians dropped a nuclear warhead in the vicinity. The team was trained in subjects like building reinforcement, welding, nuclear fallout measurement, riot control, fire fighting, auto extrication and first aid. Occasionally the local police would ask the team to assist in searching for a lost hiker or skier. Over time it was realized that there was more of a need for a wilderness search and rescue team, and not so much need for a Civil Defence unit. Soon, the team started to focus on, and train and equip for, search and rescue operations in the North Shore mountains.
During its history, NSR has often taken the lead in developing techniques and protocols for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. NSR was one of the first BC Search and Rescue (SAR) teams to train in human tracking, use search dogs, establish a dive team, and develop special protocols for treating hypothermia victims.
The team once had a dive group, which performed underwater search and rescue operations. This function is now performed by the police. The current team focuses on Mountain Search and Rescue (SAR), Helicopter Rescue, Urban Search and Rescue, and public education.
This current focus on team operations has been enhanced by several recent initiatives.NSR has led the way in this province for SAR teams in the development and implementation of Helicopter Flight Rescue System (HFRS), where specially trained members are slung underneath a helicopter by lengths of over 200 feet to access technical terrain in order to quickly evacuate stranded and or injured hikers, climbers, skiers snowboarders, snowshoers and as of recent mountain bikers.NSR runs a summer Mountaineering School in partnership with Canada West Mountain School and will have a similar school for winter mountaineering and avalanche training starting in 2005. NSR has acquired All Terrain Vehicle and snow mobile capability in order to address increased call volume in specific response areas that require this type of transport. NSR has developed a comprehensive communication system capability utilizing 5 strategically located VHF radio repeater sites.This is vital due to the mountainous terrain on the North Shore, expanded hiking areas that have opened up and with the meteoric rise in mountain biking and the accidents that come with this extreme sport.
NSR with the assistance of private and municipal support has produced it own topographic maps for the North Shore that are specific for our team operations. They are currently being updated to address the major development of mountain biking trails across the North Shore. NSR is working closely with the North Shore Mountain Bike Association on this update and on safety initaitives.
In public education and safety NSR has co-developed with local film producers, a fantastic CD titled “Great Day for A Hike” that targets young people on the aspects of outdoor safety. NSR in partnership with the three local mountain resorts, BC Parks, the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and Canada West Mountain School has created the North Shore Avalanche Advisory (NSAA) and hosts on our website the NSAA bulletin that gives up to date information on local snow stability and avalanche hazards. NSR in partnership with the GVRD has formed a nightly Grouse Grind courtesy patrol to address to call volume associated with many unprepared hikers stranded by darkness, dehydration or injury on this “alpine stairmaster”. Lastly this new website has been created and will be regularly updated with information and photos. NSR feels it will become an important tool not only to educate the public on outdoor safety but to raise public awareness and support of this vital volunteer search and rescue service that exists throughout the Province of BC.