Rocklin firefighter helps heal in Third World

Zach Smith, co-founder of Mission to Heal, brings health care to Haiti, Sudan and mor
By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald correspondent
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Rocklin residents can expect emergency assistance within five minutes of their calls for help.

For individuals living in the poorest corners of the world, however, help for an emergency of equal magnitude could take two weeks, on average, to reach them.

“We live in non-reality. The bottom billion is reality and I love living that way,” said Rocklin firefighter Zach Smith, co-founder of Mission to Heal, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing health care to those who have no resources as well as training volunteers willing to travel to other continents to provide those services.

The 33-year-old Roseville resident indicated the organization’s pursuits are guided by the principles of human dignity and faithful and responsible stewardship. 

Upcoming mission trips will support mobile surgical units, build a rural clinic and deliver training and supplies to clinics in Ecuador, Nigeria, Central African Republic, India and the Republic of South Sudan.

“Once you start with a healing process, you are forever part of their family and that holds true in Rocklin,” Smith said.

Rocklin’s Fire Department has been “nothing but supportive,” he added. 

Co-workers have traded vacation shifts to give him the time to develop the mission work while representing Rocklin as an international outlet for humanitarianism. 

“We are all very proud of Zach and what he has accomplished,” said Rocklin Fire Chief Jim Summers. 

The connection not only enhances worldwide well-being, but the work has also given him a depth of knowledge he can now share.

Co-founder Dr. Glenn Geelhoed, M.D., is a surgeon at George Washington University Medical Center. The surgeon uses Skype, or video chats, to share his medical knowledge and information with doctors in Third  World countries, particularly during emergency and surgical procedures.

Smith dreams of partnering with a shoe manufacturer to custom-make shoes for individuals with leprosy. He also looks forward to the day when technology will improve the caliber of medical attention given to residents of Third World countries. 

Smith’s current project involves establishing a clinic in an orphanage in Mozambique. 

“It’s not rewarding because you know they are grateful,” said Smith. “Seeing the change in other people is rewarding. It’s who you’re working alongside. The bond that is created there is really rewarding.”