When I bought Rescue Me, I thought I might learn how to rescue people. The book convinced me not to try.

It showed me I don’t the stamina search and rescue teams have, and my heart would break at the effort. It did over many of the stories in Rescue Me.

Author Cathalynn Labonte-Smith interviewed SAR volunteers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Many of their rescues were on the Sunshine Coast, where Labonte-Smith lives.

She tells of SAR teams slogging through snow, desert, steep terrain, swift running rivers, thick woods, and caves—sometimes for weeks—to find the lost and injured. They searched for hikers, mountain bikers, mushroom pickers, an ice fisher who fell through the ice, and dog walker who followed a dog. They also searched for survivors of plane crashes. A trained pilot, Labonte-Smith knows the technicalities of flying, and she explains what went wrong.

One rescue, in particular, stays with me. It was similar to a movie scene that would probably test the mettle of stuntmen. A truck plunged down an embankment in Manning Park. After two days of search SAR volunteers found the driver hanging upside down in the cab. They rappelled down the slope and removed the transmission to get to him. I won’t tell you the spoiler here but suffice it to say I cried.

Along with their muscles and specialized gear, SAR volunteers use dogs, horses, and brainwork to find people. The book is of interest to those who want to hear about these heroes and the hapless folks who need them.

There’s a warning though: many of the rescues become recoveries. The sad stories are well worth reading for anyone thinking of going off in the woods unprepared, even with a partner, as pairs of hikers need rescuing too. Rescue Me is full of tips that may help you avoid the need to wait in the cold dark woods for a rescue team.

This book is a must-read for hikers. If you’re a Sunshine Coaster you have a high likelihood of being one. Get this book and heed it. And along with that hiking gear you’re giving a friend for Christmas, include Rescue Me.