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Meet North Shore Rescue's new team leader

Scott Merriman has been a North Shore Rescue volunteer for the last 13 years, now taking over for Mike Danks as team leader
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North Shore Rescue's new team leader Scott Merriman gets ready for action at the team’s North Vancouver rescue base, June 7, 2024 | Brent Richter / North Shore ӣƵ

Scott Merriman has been helping North Shore Rescue since before he even joined the team.

On a trek to Crown Mountain more than a dozen years ago, some hikers came upon backpacks, seemingly abandoned along the trail – often a sign of trouble in the backcountry.

Sufficiently worried that someone was in need of help, Merriman called 911 and was eventually put on the phone with legendary North Shore Rescue team leader Tim Jones, who began mobilizing a search. It turned out to be a false alarm, but the call proved fateful.

“It was my first unofficial introduction to the team and it looked like kind of a neat thing to get involved with," he said. "I liked the outdoors and what better way to merge the outdoors with giving back to the community.”

Merriman, who has been a member of North Shore Rescue for the last 13 years, was officially named the new team leader on Tuesday night

Like a lot of rescuers, Merriman still feels that compulsion to help like he did with the abandoned backpack.

“We don’t always have good outcomes, but it certainly feels good when you can reunite somebody with their loved one,” said the 41-year-old electrical engineer from Deep Cove.

In his years as a volunteer, Merriman has been promoted up to a search manager and air operations co-ordinator. If you’ve familiar with images of rescuers dangling on a long line below a helicopter, there’s a good chance one of those rescuers was him.

When Danks alerted the team members he would be stepping down, Merriman said he gave in to the “peer pressure” – encouragement from Danks and others – to take on leadership of the team.

For the time being, Merriman said he is still working with Danks to make a smooth transition, and he wants to keep North Shore Rescue on the same trajectory that Danks had it – acquiring new technology and skillsets for the team, renewing their aging infrastructure and taking care of the members.

“I think he’s left it in a in a good place,” he said. “We’ve really progressed in the last 10 years and I’m looking to continue that.”

Danks said he felt some hesitation about his time as leader coming to an end, but Merriman volunteering for the role put his worries to rest.

“My hope was that it would be someone that I had seen develop over the years and would have a very similar vision,” he said. “I think Scott is that person and I’m very confident that he will continue to keep the team progressing in many, many ways. And he brings a whole new level of energy into that position, so I’m excited for the future.”

The team is facing new challenges that Merriman will have to tackle as leader. As the older generation of volunteers ages out of active service, Merriman will have to see younger members trained up to replace them. And because of the rising cost of housing on the North Shore, that’ s becoming harder to do.

“We’ve had a number of younger members – really, really solid members – that just can’t afford to live here, and so we’ve lost them,” he said. “There may be times when we don’t have as many members available on a given call that we might need.”

As he becomes the new face of B.C.’s most prominent mountain rescue team, Merriman acknowledged that none of their good work would be possible without the support the North Shore community offers them. Both the financial donations and the good will keep the team going, Merriman said, adding it is never taken for granted.

“It does mean a lot to our members to be supported by the community,” he said.

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