A loud explosion was heard and shots fired at the outskirts of the Central Business District before noon on Wednesday (Nov 18) as part of an anti-terror exercise, codenamed Exercise Heartbeat, an annual event by the Singapore Police Force with the aim of enhancing emergency preparedness and joint response during a crisis.
This is the seventh time the exercise has been held. The recent attacks on Paris which saw scores killed made it all the more critical for such exercises to be held, said Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State for the Home Affairs Ministry, who watched the exercise unfold.
"The recent attacks in Paris remind us that terrorist attacks can occur at any time, at any place, and no country is immune. It’s very critical that we remain vigilant and prepared at all times, and not just the Home Team, but the entire community – business, communities, families and individuals," said Mr Lee.
"While we want to do everything we can to prevent a terrorist incident in Singapore, we must be fully prepared for such an attack if it does occurs, and exercises such as Exercise Heartbeat test the readiness of the Home Team as well the community to respond in the event of such an incident."
He also said that the Government will be giving out "Ready Bags". These bags, which will be distributed at community events, will contain basic items for an emergency such as a dynamo torchlight which does not require batteries to operate, a whistle and a first-aid kit.
Mr Lee said that he hopes these items will encourage citizens to start thinking about what they should have on hand and what they should do in times of emergency.
"A resilient community is resilient because every individual is resilient, every individual is mentally and physically prepared. Such incidents will come out of the blue. They won't occur when you have an exercise but occur in the course of everyday life, totally unexpected. the Home Team will respond but individuals, communities and organisations are key in our fight," he added.
CHEMICALS, BOMBS, GUNS
The exercise began with a simulated chemical agent attack at One Marina Boulevard (OMB) at about 9am. Police say chemical attacks are not visible to the naked eye, but the effects of the gas on people will be seen.
SCDF officers aim to respond within 8 minutes from the moment an emergency call is received. Upon arrival, they will prioritise casualties, evacuate the building and mitigate the source of the chemical agent.
To decontaminate the victims of a chemical attack, their clothes are removed, and casualties washed with soap and water.
All fire engines are equipped with hazardous materials detectors to help identify the chemical agent. The time needed for full containment will depend on the number of casualties and the spread of the attack.
The next scenario saw an explosion of an IED - an improvised explosive device - followed by the confrontation with a lone gunman at Esplanade Park.
In total, five terror attack scenarios will be role-played across two days, Nov 18 and 23.
Earlier on Wednesday, between 1am and 4.30am, a simulated terrorist swarm attack was held at Toa Payoh HDB Hub.
The final scenario on Nov 23 will involve a simulated suicide bomber and gunman attack. It will be held at Sentosa Golf Club and Sentosa Cove Village between 9am and 12pm.