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Paramedic-turned-filmmaker shares suffering of Nepalese 'family'

Posted April 27, 2015

Filmmaker Allan R. Smith went to Nepal in 2012 for inspiration, working on a movie about an attempt to climb Mount Everest. After seeing the devastation wrought by a magnitude-7.8 earthquake there this past weekend, Smith packed his bags for a return, this time to leverage the skills he learned as a paramedic and firefighter.

Smith is president of Cary-based DreamQuest Productions and a trained first responder for whom the images from the other side of the world have hit close to home.

"When you're in Nepal and you meet your Sherpa, what you are meeting is, you are meeting the family," he said.

Sherpas are an ethnic group commonly associated with Mount Everest, where many serve as climbing guides and use the group name as a surname.

Smith described the help he got from the locals as he shot "Eight Summits: The Bill Burke Story." He wants to return that favor for the production team, especially Darwa Sherpa.

"He kind of became like a brother because everything we were doing in 2012 in filming the summit attempt, he was there to assist us," Smith said.

On Monday, Smith was able to Skype with Sherpa.

"Bill and I were thinking about coming over and helping you guys," Smith told him.

Sherpa quickly made a list.

"We need relief material, medical kits, blankets and medicine. These are the needs of the hour," he said.

Smith has already filled out necessary paperwork to help with relief in Nepal. He could get the call any time.

Raleigh native Jennifer Farrell, a medical student at Tulane University, is already in Nepal. She said even her paramedic training did not prepare her for what she witnessed after the quake.

"I saw families carrying bodies, children and adults. They had actually started laying a tarp out in one of the villages that we passed by to put the people out to identify them," she said.

Nepal has a huge task ahead of rescue and recovery.

In the interim, Darwa Sherpa had another request.

"At this time, what the Nepali people need is prayer," he said. "You can always pray."


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