The pictures were heartbreaking; the death and destruction overwhelming. Just six months ago, as Pakistan was shaken to the core by a massive 7.6 magnitude earthquake, a group of New York City emergency medical workers was watching too, and immediately started making preparations to travel halfway around the world to help.
The quake crushed towns hidden in the shadows of the Himalaya Mountains. The numbers were staggering: 3.5 million homeless, 73,000 dead, 69,000 injured. When this band of medics arrived, they were stunned to find that many of the injured had never even been seen by a doctor.
"It was incredible that this was two weeks after the earthquake," said Phil Suarez, a paramedic. Phil kept a photographic record of the people he met. A few of his photos are featured here.
Their mission of mercy was beset by obstacles. A language barrier kept patients from communicating their pain. The perilous terrain made moving between camps nearly impossible. Shelter was nearly nonexistent, as were medical supplies. And a punishing winter that would cover the mountains in snow was approaching fast.
But still, the wounded kept coming to their makeshift emergency room. "Four men would be carrying these sick people over this rubble that I could barely walk on with a backpack," Phil said.
For two weeks, the medics worked in the harshest conditions, doing what they could with what little they had available for their very grateful patients.
When they returned home to their lives, their jobs and their families, they knew their work in the mountains of Pakistan was not yet done. In March, they made their way back. But this time, they were armed with donations, supplies, even prefabricated shelters for some of those still displaced by the quake, but unwilling to come down from the mountains.
Six months has passed since the earthquake, and little has changed for the people of the poor Pakistani villages buried under the quake's rubble. But much has changed for these medics, who left their lives behind to respond to an emergency call half a world away from home.