SINGAPORE: An explosion was heard and gun shots fired at Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay on Friday (Sep 2) as part of an anti-terror exercise, codenamed "Exercise Heartbeat".
Exercise Heartbeat was organised with the aim of enhancing emergency preparedness and joint response during a crisis. This was the eighth time the exercise has been held and this year's edition involved 167 people.
The recent attack at Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris made it all the more important for such exercises to be held, said Mr Amrin Amin, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs, who observed the exercise.
"Recently we have seen the attack of the concert hall at Paris so this is not child's play. It's real and we have to prepare ourselves and know what to do in the event of an attack," siad Mr Amrin.
"An exercise like this is very useful so we sensitise as well as practise our standard operating procedures. So when the time comes all of us are able to respond decisively," he added.
The exercise began with a simulated Improvised Explosion Device (IED) explosion during a concert held at the upper concourse of the Esplanade. As the public evacuated, gunmen started shooting, forcing them back in the building.
Participants in action during Exercise Heartbeat 2016 held at the Esplanade. (Photo: Calvin Oh)
The Emergency Response Team from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) then joined the exercise by responding, engaging and neutralising attackers to minimise casualties.
The Emergency Response Team during Exercise Heartbeat 2016, a simulated terror attack at the Esplanade. (Photo: Calvin Oh)
Following which, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers then responded to emergency calls to assist in the situation.
Participants of Exercise Heartbeat simulate getting injured during a terror attack drill. (Photo: Calvin Oh)
The exercise involved the Esplanade staff, members from the Safety and Security Watch Group (SSWG) and students and residents from the neighbouring buildings.
In total, the exercise lasted about 20 minutes.
Prior to this exercise, SPF and SCDF conducted SGSecure training sessions to equip Esplanade staff, tenants and other community partners on survival skills and knowledge.
In a release on Thursday, SPF said members of the public are "advised not to be alarmed by the loud sounds and exercise activities", and that “blanks, thunder flashes and fire and smoke simulators will be used during the exercise"
Signs indicating “Exercise-In-Progress” will be displayed and cordons will be set up within the exercise venue.
“Exercise Heartbeat will help our business community prepare for terrorist attack scenarios,” the police said, adding that members of the public may call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000 if they have further queries.