It's early morning in hell: Port-au-Prince, Haiti, only days after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the shantytown-scattered city.
And wedged into the middle of the dust, bodies, rubble and need, Rahul Singh has gathered a group together to talk strategy. The Haitian boys and young men are there to learn how to use units that will deliver 150,000 litres of clean water each day to thousands of people in churches, clinics and orphanages.
Using his rusted Quebecois-accented French, Mr. Singh fires them up by explaining why the band of water-bearers are so desperately needed. Everyone gives a cheer of, "Sauvez au jour!" or "save the day!" and they're running.
It's a moment Mr. Singh, a married Toronto paramedic who founded GlobalMedic in 1998, says he'll never forget.
"It's so cool to think that we can basically stop time, leave our normal lives, and bring hope in the form of field hospitals, water units and a contagious attitude of 'Don't worry, guys. We're going to do this!' It's just amazing," he says.
The GlobalMedic foundation is named after Mr. Singh's friend David McAntony Gibson, who died after a liver transplant. It is often one of the first on the ground at any disaster. More than 400 Canadian paramedics, firefighters, police officers, doctors and nurses volunteer to be deployed at the drop of a sombre newscast.
Under Mr. Singh's leadership, they've picked up the pieces in more than 35 countries ranging from Bangladesh to Zimbabwe, and often under extremely dangerous conditions. That first night in Haiti? Shots rang out at night not far from where the GlobalMedic team deployed water, leaving a scattering of bodies on the streets the next day.
"It plays with your head. It's tough," admits Mr. Singh. "But you've got to get your game face on, right? When you're there, you can't look like you're shocked or overwhelmed. You're the cavalry. You've got to deliver the goods."
Those goods multiply under his care, despite the fact that Mr. Singh had more chutzpah than NGO experience when he launched GlobalMedic. Although the organization typically only receives about a half-million dollars a year in funding, he finds ways to convert that money into millions of dollars in aid.
For instance, after Haiti, companies gave GlobalMedic generators, medicine and tents. The now defunct Skyservice charter airline offered space to fly the teams and hardware down. The total cost of the mission? $1,200.
"You do the math. For twelve-hundred bucks, I delivered $2-million worth of aid. And while everyone was struggling to get stuff down to Haiti because the airports were closed, we get corporate Canada to help us," he says.
Selfless, but upfront, Mr. Singh isn't boasting. Whether he's losing his voice telling the story of how an eight-day-old baby died in his arms, or admitting there are some days he just wanted to give up and go home, he tells these stories plainly and honestly.
With his ability to save lives and educate those back home, it's little wonder that he was recently been named one of the 2010 TIME 100, the magazine's annual list of the world's most influential people. Still, he admits, his volunteers make all the difference.
"We're like a big family of highly-skilled folks who can save a life - and we just roll out to save the day," he says.