Brothers Gerry (b. 1934) and Dave (b. 1937) Brewer spent their childhoods living close to nature in Upper Lynn Valley. They have been involved with outdoor rescue since becoming members of North Shore Civil Defense, a volunteer-based disaster response team. As demand shifted from Cold War concerns to wilderness search and rescue, Gerry and Dave helped found the North Shore Rescue (est. 1965). Over the years, their dedication and innovations have made it one of the best volunteer search and rescue teams in the world. On July 25th, 1997, RCMP headquarters in North Vancouver reopened as the Gerry Brewer Building in recognition of his volunteer service. In 2015, Dave was presented with an Award of Excellence for Leadership from the National Search and Rescue Secretariat.
Photos courtesy of Dave Brewer and Bruce Moffat of NSR.
North Shore Rescue
Gerry offers his thoughts on safety, communication and how NSR members love the outdoors.
“I think at the end of the day they are here just simply to help other people. They’re not really different than policemen, firemen or ambulance attendants. It’s just a different way of doing it, and the fact that they enjoy being outdoors, enjoy being in the mountains. We like to think of the people on the team as being the kind of person that whether it is summer or winter, night or day, good weather or bad, they are comfortable being out there; it’s not some foreign environment.
We have got probably one of the best communications systems in the world, driven by the need for safety. We used to go out in the bush and stomp around down in Suicide Gulley and people would ask, two or three hours later: “I wonder how they’re doing?” There was no radio communication so if we had an accident or we found the subject badly injured, and we needed drugs or other treatment equipment, or we had an avalanche, nobody would know anything because we had no communications. We now have radio systems, pagers (cell phones), portable repeaters and we maintain 100 percent live contact wherever we are.”
To learn crucial safety information about hiking the North Shore Mountains, please visit www.northshorerescue.com.