Psychological first aid training for community responders
All constituencies to set up teams trained in psychological first aid
Gunshots rang through a crowded Ang Mo Kio hawker centre in a mock exercise yesterday morning.
"Bystanders" trained in first aid jumped into action - administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation and looking for an automated external defibrillator - as soon as the attackers were apprehended.
But psychological trauma faced by terror victims can be as serious as physical wounds.
To deal with this, community responders in all 89 constituencies will be trained in psychological first aid to provide support to affected residents in the event of a terrorist attack.
The formation of the Human Emergency Assistance and Response Team (Heart) was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Emergency Preparedness Day at the Teck Ghee constituency yesterday.
Mr Lee highlighted terror-related developments in the region and the Saturday incident at the Paris Orly Airport, where a gunman with suspected terror links was killed by security forces after he tried to seize a soldier's weapon.
He also said the terror threat is serious and at our doorstep.
There are three main steps — look, listen and link.Senior counsellor at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, Mr Andrew Neo, on psychological first aid
Urging volunteers to learn skills they can use after an incident, including psychological first aid, Mr Lee said: "People will be nervous, anxious, stressed, and you need to be able to help them, reassure them, calm them down... and give them psychological and emotional support."
There are currently 34 Hearts, each consisting of psychologists and counsellors from the Home Team, Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Institute of Mental Health.
They will train grassroots leaders and volunteers in psychological first aid, using a formalised and structured approach.
Last week, 60 community responders in Ang Mo Kio GRC were among the first to be trained in a half-day course.
Grassroots volunteer Lim Chin Keong, 39, was one of them.
He said: "I've been trained in standard first aid, but psychological first aid enhances my ability to handle an emergency. For example, I learnt tips on how to calm a person down, as well as taking down details to contact the loved ones."
Mr Andrew Neo, 36, senior counsellor at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, who was part of the Heart that trained volunteers last week, explained that psychological first aid is research-based and easy to administer.
He said: "There are three main steps - look, listen and link. The volunteers should be able to identify and help people who are stressed after a terror attack, as well as connect them to community mental health centres if they continue to require assistance."
PM Lee reveals updated SGSecure app
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday unveiled enhancements to the SGSecure mobile app, which has been downloaded to 340,000 mobile devices since its launch last September.
After subscribers update the app, they will receive customised alerts that will notify them of emergency incidents in their vicinity, based on postal codes of specific places such as their homes, schools and workplaces.
They will also receive alerts on terrorist attacks and related incidents in specific regions that Singaporeans have key interests in, such as Asia, the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
The SGSecure app serves as a one-stop portal for people to download useful information about counter-terrorism and receive alerts in the event of major emergencies here.
It also allows the public to send information to the police via text, photographs or videos.
Community volunteers and Home Team officers have visited more than 50,000 households since the official launch of the SGSecure movement.
Moving forward, SGSecure programmes will intensify outreach to schools and workplaces, said the Ministry of Home Affairs in a press release yesterday.
Pre-school teacher Ireen Yip, 65, who has downloaded the updated app, thinks it will be useful as she will be able to get news about important events quickly.
She said: "In the past, I relied on the radio or my friends who would tell me about the news." - LINETTE HENG