Exercise Heartbeat: Showstopper at Esplanade
Anti-terror exercise features new movement initiative for public to notify police by text message
Forty Chechen fighters attacked Moscow's Dubrovka Theatre on Oct 23, 2002, leaving about 130 dead after a botched rescue attempt.
On July 20, 2012, a man killed 12 people and injured 70 others in Colorado, US, during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises at a cinema.
Last November, 89 people were killed in a terror attack at the Bataclan theatre in France during a rock concert.
An attack can happen at any cinema or concert theatre here.
That was why, yesterday, the Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay was used by the authorities for a simulated attack to test their response during a terrorist attack.
A singer was doing a cover of Frank Sinatra's Fly Me To The Moon at the concourse when a man dragged a large bag into the unsuspecting crowd and left a minute later.
Security patrolling the area noticed the bag and realised it was an improvised explosive device.
As the song ended, the device exploded, sending shrapnel and bodies flying. Audience members trying to escape were mowed down by gunmen with assault rifles.
This was part of Exercise Heartbeat, the annual anti-terror exercise conducted yesterday morning.
It also featured the new SGSecure movement initiative that allows the public to notify the Singapore Police Force (SPF) of incidents via text message. (See report below.)
The Emergency Response Team took down the attackers and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) attended to the casualties.
Speaking to the media after the exercise, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr Amrin Amin, said it is important for Singaporeans to be prepared.
"We saw the attack of the concert hall in Paris, so this is not child's play," he said.
"It's real and we have to prepare ourselves and know what to do in the event of an attack."
The exercise involved 167 SPF and SCDF personnel, Esplanade employees and Kampong Glam Waterloo Residents' Committee volunteers.
Superintendent Lynette Lim, commanding officer of Marina Bay Neighbourhood Police Centre, said this is the eighth edition of Exercise Heartbeat.
"What's special about this year's exercise is the incorporation of SGSecure, a national movement to train the community to be prepared for terror attacks," she said.
"It is important that each and every member of the community understands these principles so they can react well in a terror attack - which Singapore is not immune to."
What is SGSecure?
SGSecure is a national movement to train and prepare the public for terrorist attacks. It is expected to be launched at the end of the month.
Training began this year and will continue with more members of the public.
SGSecure includes the Run, Hide, Tell advisory, and the Press, Tie and Tell method of improvised first aid skills.
Members of the public were also told of the new ways to contact the police in emergencies.
These include sending a text message to 71999 if it is not safe to talk, as well as providing information through i-Witness on the Police@SG mobile application, which allows the sending of text, photos and videos to the police.