The final installment of the hospital based anti-terror exercise, Exercise Heartbeat 2016, was held at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong East last Sunday evening on 23 October.

The exercise involved 185 people from the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Emergency Response Teams, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the Jurong Gateway Safety and Security Watch Group members as well as members from Yuhua and Bukit Batok East constituencies. The event was organised with the aim of enhancing preparedness for handling emergency and joint response during a crisis.

Attendees scampered for their lives as “gunmen” attacked medical conference

During the drill, simulated terrorists armed with guns opened fire outside the hospital’s auditorium where a medical conference was ongoing, to which anti-terror police units swiftly responded to handle the assailants. Civil defence officers then arrived to perform rescue operations, while the hospital’s emergency response team, made up of doctors and nurses, tended to the wounded civilians and provided medical treatment.

Prior to the event, exercise participants underwent SGSecure training on survival skills, and a localised alert message by the SMS-based Public Alert System was also disseminated to people within the vicinity before the drill began.

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam observed the exercise along with other Members of Parliament for Jurong GRC.

Disaster exercise essential to enhance response to crisis

“Hospitals, shopping malls, even hotels and public transport hubs and other public congregation areas are attractive and easy targets for terrorists to attack,” said Gerard Lim, Commander of SPF’s Clementi Division. “This is simply because they lack formidable security defences.”

Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam also said that such exercises are essential for institutions to learn how to respond when such events occur. “The hospital, like any other public space, is vulnerable to attacks. We’ve seen this happen in other countries,” she said.

Jurong Health CEO, Foo Hee Jug suggested that staff should also participate in exercises on a regular basis, perhaps in an unannounced fashion.

“For example, we put unattended bags in different places in the hospital and we see how our security and staff respond to different scenarios,” he added.

"So these are real things that could happen, and especially now with the rise of threat of terrorism, I think it's important for every institution, especially hospitals, to be prepared," added Rahayu. MIMS

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