Fighting terror - in a heartbeat

Fighting terror - in a heartbeat

A car explosion, a shooting rampage and a suicide bombing. These were the scenarios played out during Monday's Exercise Heartbeat, a drill to test the readiness of Home Team forces in responding to potential terror attacks.

Into its fifth year, the annual exercise is organised by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), and also involves members of the Safety and Security Watch Group (SSWG) - a commercial sector body that partners the two agencies in security efforts.

About 6,700 Home Team and civilian personnel took part in Monday's exercise. Between 3am and 11am, mock terrorist hits such as a car explosion beside the Plaza Singapura taxi stand, an attack by four gunmen at Biopolis in Buona Vista, and a suicide bombing in front of Singapore Land Tower in Raffles Place were carried out.

A total of 12 SSWG buildings, the biggest number so far, took part this year, including Concorde Hotel Singapore, Maybank Building, and JTC Corporation's Centros Building at Biopolis.

Mr Mark Koh Ik-Leng, acting director of JTC Corp's facilities and estate management division, said: "We do this once a year together with the Home Team. I think this will strengthen the coordination of our ground public agencies as well as our researchers, tenants and the private companies."

He added that building managements like his in the Biopolis cluster meet the police and SCDF regularly to discuss safety issues such as fire evacuation plans and emergency responses.

This year was also the first time that the Central, Clementi and Tanglin police divisions combined forces during the exercise. Previously, police divisions took part in separate drills on their own.

Commander of Clementi Police Division and deputy director of the SPF's operations department, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Melvin Yong, stressed the importance of coordinated security efforts: "We want to know, if multiple incidents take place at the same time, how the coordination between the various agencies and volunteers can be better."

MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC and deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law Edwin Tong, who observed the drill, said: "We cannot be complacent. Singapore's relative peace and tranquillity cannot be taken for granted."

He added: "These exercises keep, firstly, the public on its toes; secondly, they also allow agencies to improve the rigours of their system."

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