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People to Watch: Paramedic Rahul Singh

June 11, 2010 by  
Filed under lifestyle, Special Features


Rahul EMSGrief often spurns action, but for Rahul Singh, the loss of his close friend David Gibson inspired him to found a charitable foundation.

Now, 12 years later, Global Medic (GM) has grown into a respected emergency relief organization as part of the David McAntony Gibson Foundation.

“I was out in Nepal for some disaster work and came home to [David’s] funeral frustrated with the way the aid system works, so I set something up more efficient and named the charity after him in his honour,” Singh says.

At 39, Singh recently gained recognition from TIME Magazine, appearing alongside the likes of Bill Clinton in the magazine’s annual “100 Most Influential People” feature. Speaking about the nomination in the National Post in April 2010, he said the upcoming nominee gala was an opportunity to “work the room” and gain support from wealthy donators.

“We got some people on board and built our network,” he says of the gala. “But I’m not Madonna; I gotta use charm and I’m a little low on that,” he says humbly.

For the blurb alongside his sketched face in TIME, the prime minister of Haiti extended his everlasting gratitude for GM’s quick and effective work. “Singh and his group of volunteers wasted no time in arriving in Port-au-Prince and setting about providing clean drinking water,” he wrote.

Most importantly, Singh’s team ensured local Haitians were able to treat the water themselves by providing hands-on training. “It’s the methodology we’ve used for years,” he says. “It’s better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish. [With the locals help], we distributed close to a million litres of water a week.”

Singh landed in Haiti as part of GM’s first team, and after four weeks of 18-hour days, he says he just wanted to “come home, puke, and sleep for a few days.” His team wasn’t able to work at night for security reasons. “Once we got in there it was a horror show,” he says. “At night, the gunfire and screaming beyond our compound walls really hammered it home. [Worse was when] you came out the next day and saw bodies that hadn’t been killed by the earthquake – these guys were tied up naked and shot in the head.”

Despite the gruesome work environment, Singh was determined to deliver aid to those in need and joined GM’s fourth, fifth and even their sixth team. He manages to juggle his Toronto paramedic job and selfless volunteer work because “his [Toronto paramedic] department is so great and understanding.”

As for all the recognition his work has brought, he says, “The media says ‘good for you,’ but it’s nothing about me. It’s all worth it when a three-year-old is getting clean water and you’re like, this kid has a shot now.”


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