Home team gets armed when terror hits
Police, SCDF conduct annual anti-terror exercise as test of readiness. Senior Minister of State says attacks can occur any time, any place
A blast followed by the piercing sound of gunshots sent shock waves through the Esplanade Park.
Soon after, a lone gunman ran in and picked off the wounded one by one with his gun.
There was shock and fear.
The above scene was a simulation, but the exercise conducted by the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force in response to it is very real.
In the scenario, conducted yesterday at 10am, there was an exchange of gunfire before the attacker was quickly subdued by police officers from the Central Division, who were at the scene within minutes.
After the "terrorist" was pinned down and taken into custody, officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) provided first aid to the "victims" and evacuated them.
The simulated scenario was part of Exercise Heartbeat, an annual anti-terror exercise to enhance emergency preparedness and joint response in a crisis.
Now in its seventh year, the exercise is a collaboration between the police and SCDF.
It also involves members of the Safety and Security Watch Group, a commercial sector body that partners the police in security efforts.
A total of 242 Home Team officers and community partners were involved in yesterday's exercise.
The terror attack scenario is increasingly relevant in light of the attacks in Paris last Friday.
The guest of honour, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, said it is critical for such exercises to be conducted, given the tragedy that took away many innocent lives in Paris.
"It is a test of the readiness of the Home Team, as well as the community, to respond in the event of such an incident," he said.
Mr Lee added that the Paris attacks served as a reminder that terrorist attacks can occur at any time, at any place, and that no country is immune from such violence.
Those who attended the exercise, including the media, were also given "Ready Bags".
Each bag has basic items that will be useful in an emergency, such as a whistle, a first-aid kit and a dynamo torch that does not require batteries to operate.
Households are encouraged to add other items that are essential, such as personal medication.
Deputy Superintendent Tan Yong Liang, commanding officer of Marina Bay Neighbourhood Police Centre, said: "The purpose of these Ready Bags is to promote the concept of self-reliance and for members of the public to help each other in times of crisis."
The Ready Bags will be distributed at Emergency Preparedness Day events and other grassroots events in the community.
Helping victims of a chemical attack
Aside from the shooting rampage, there was another scenario that involved an attack using chemicals.
This took place at One Marina Boulevard at 9am.
In this scenario, terrorists spilt a bottle of clear liquid on the seventh level, causing "victims" to collapse and foam at the mouth.
A few minutes later, SCDF officers emerged in protective suits.
The chemical was identified as sarin, a man-made toxin that is colourless and has no odour.
The officers attended to casualties, evacuated people in the building and removed the source of the chemical agent.
Victims of a chemical attack are decontaminated by having their clothes removed. Their bodies will also be washed with soap and water.
All fire engines are equipped with hazardous materials detectors to help identify the chemical agent.
SCDF aims to respond to an emergency within eight minutes from the time a call is received.