New initiatives to target malls, condos on terror emergency preparedness

New initiatives to target malls, condos on terror emergency preparedness

The Ministry of Home Affairs is beefing up efforts to prepare the community amid ongoing terror threats, which include more outreach in areas like suburban malls and private estates. Ahmad Khan reports. 

SINGAPORE: How prepared will you be when a terror attack strikes?

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is beefing up efforts to prepare the community amid ongoing terror threats, which it calls "the new normal".

The plans, which were announced at the inaugural SGSecure Community Conference on Saturday (Jan 26), include more outreach in areas like suburban malls and private estates as part of SGSecure, a movement that strengthens the community's response during an attack.

"It only takes one prepared Singaporean to administer CPR to save another’s life,” said Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development.

“When it comes to the crunch, are you that one Singaporean? So to the man on the street, the everyday Singaporean, what is SGSecure to him?"

Sun Xueling and K Shanmugam at SGSecure Community Conference
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam with Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development, speaking with SGSecure representatives on Jan 26, 2019. (Photo: Ahmad Khan)

A recent survey of about 2,000 Singaporeans showed that while about half were trained or were familiar with a so-called emergency preparedness skill such as first aid, less than one in three were taking part in activities aimed to preparing the community.

It was one of the reasons why the authorities wanted to get the word out more, by bringing larger scale roadshows to heartland malls and to residents in private estates.

The aim is to reach 100 condominiums over two years, as terror threats continue to mount.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said: "They (terror threats) are the new normal. That is part of our life. It is not going to go away. So our preparedness and response, I think, have to be in-built and part of the new normal. This means getting people committed, not just to be aware, but committed to take action themselves."

SGSecure Community Conference
Supt Mohd Azman Mohd Sidek, a Police NSman and vice principal of Meridian Secondary School. (Photo: Ahmad Khan)

Some people are already heeding that call. A new Responders Network has been set up, and it comprises volunteers who are mobilised during times of crisis. 

Supt (NS) Mohd Azman bin Mohd Sidek, a Police NSmen and also the Vice-Principal of Meridian Secondary School, devotes his weekends to train Singaporeans on SGSecure-related skills since 2016.

"This network is important because when you look at any crowded place, you'd wonder how many people at the crowded place are equipped with many skills that can be very useful to be called upon should there be a crisis of some kind,” he said.

CPR at SGSecure Community Conference
Volunteers from the SGSecure Responders Network. (Photo: Ahmad Khan)

“You stand ready to commit yourself when you are activated, to do your part to whichever situation the crisis requires you to be activated for."

Singaporeans who use the myResponder app, which alerts them to help put out small fires nearby or to those who need emergency medical assistance, will soon be able to access it through the SGSecure app.

To ensure that efforts are coordinated across the community, authorities are piloting what is called a "Community Response Roundtable", a regular platform to help religious groups, schools and businesses collaborate and share best practices in terror emergencies.

About 600 people attended the SGSecure Community Conference.

Source: CNA/na

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