V Krishnan

“Because I believe that each of us – no matter what our age or background or walk of life – each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation” – Michelle Obama.


And Mr Krishnan is testament to this statement for he has dedicated most of his life to the world of First Aid service, making a difference in our society, one life at a time.

It is rare for one to volunteer and that too in the field of first aid in the early years of Singapore’s development. Perhaps seeing his mother work at the Singapore General Hospital and living in the quarters nearby could have unconsciously spurred the young Mr Krishnan.

He was born in Singapore in the year of 1939, when Singapore was still under the Japanese Occupation. He grew up during this tough time, with his mother as the sole breadwinner as his father passed on early in life. He was privileged to start his primary education although only at the age of 10. But his educational journey was short lived and he had to step into the working world at a young age.


“I had a tough childhood, very tough”

The constant theme throughout Mr Krishnan’s life has been his passion for First Aid. His interest in First Aid stemmed from the first hand experience of seeing his mother work at a hospital and deal with patients.

And his first experience with First aid came when he went to Outram school to learn more about First Aid treatment. His interest was piqued and he decided to join the Cadet division in Paya Lebar to further his studies, even though this meant daily walks all the way from Chinatown to Paya Lebar and back. His stint in National Service in 1964 with the Singapore Medical Corps further cemented his relationship with the medical services sector.

He went on to volunteer at St John’s for 45 years. In that time, he started a lot of initiatives, which has become mainstay. Noticing the lack of Indians involved in the First Aid scene, he was keen to include Indians in this aspect of community service. One of the first initiatives he undertook was to set up the St John’s Tamil Ambulance and Nursing Division. We can hear the unmistakable hint of accomplishment and pride in his voice, and rightfully so, when he recalls the reason why he decided to pioneer this initiative.

“If there exists an English division, why not have a Tamil division?”


Mr Krishnan was determined to excel in everything he did, be it his posting in National Service or the police volunteer constabulary where he served for a few years. He was duly recognised for all this work and received many medals and commendations.

Doing community service by spreading the word on first aid was Mr Krishnan’s biggest passion and he put in many hours after work into it. He would often be missing from his home and used to come back late at night after work. His mother used to quip that his next wife would be St Johns which came true to some extend as he also met his present wife at St John where she was also volunteering.

The years of work, volunteer service and family obligations took a toll on Mr Krishnan. He had some blockages in his arteries after his retirement and subsequently went for a bypass surgery. This has further reinforced in him the need to spread the word on first aid especially CPR.

Saving lives through first aid is undoubtedly what gives the greatest satisfaction to Mr Krishnan. In addition to training others in First Aid, he himself has performed CPR for a total of 6 people in his lifetime.

“If we panic, we will kill them!”          

“Our youth are the future,” he says, proudly. He cites his generation as contributing to Singapore’s success today. Mr Krishnan also highlights the importance of doing national service. “It’s where you learn the meaning of life,” he says with conviction.

In addition, he encourages all to do public service in their free time. “But don’t be like me,” he says with a chuckle. While his wife has always been a pillar of support, he tells us the need to strike a balance between family life and community service.

Community service should come from the heart, he says. “If it’s forced, it won’t last,” he explains.


“Community service should come from the heart”

Even at the age of 75 (in 2014), Mr Krishnan continues to enable others with first aid knowledge through the first aid training centre he has set up in Yishun.

Even if we cannot dedicate a huge part of our lives to community service, we hope that Mr Krishnan’s story will inspire us to find within ourselves a modicum of compassion that would inspire us to give back to the community in any way possible.


A dedication to the pioneers in the Indian community.

50Faces brings your stories of ordinary Singaporeans who have contributed to our community and nation building.