SCDF search and rescue capabilities put to the test in simulated terror attack
SINGAPORE: A collapsed building dangerously leaning at an angle, burnt cars and buses, search and rescue dogs on the lookout for possibly trapped victims in rubble. This was the scenario in the aftermath of a simulated terror attack on Saturday (Oct 28).
Held at the Home Team Tactical Centre, the scenario was based on a terror attack involving two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices at a building housing a shopping centre, homes, and a bus interchange.
The exercise, termed Northstar and started in 1997 and was led by the Singapore Civil Defence Force, showcased the work of its Rescue Battalion officers for the first time.
The Rescue Battalion, made up entirely of Operationally Ready National Servicemen, extricated casualties after performing shoring to stabilise structures.
Battalion commander Colonel (NS) Andrew Tan said that shoring - the process of temporarily supporting a building with props when it is in danger of collapse - is one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks in the event of such an emergency.
"We need to take accurate measurements, we need to use the right methods. You need to have very skilled rescuers to do all the cutting to construct the shores," he said.
He said that rescue efforts in confined spaces are also challenging and requires intense training and application of skills.
In total, the multi-agency effort involved about 500 officers from 10 agencies including the Singapore Police Force, national water agency PUB and the Health Sciences Authority.
This is the second phase of the tenth edition of the exercise. The first was held about a week ago at Changi Airport, led by the Police.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo attended the exercise on Saturday.
Speaking to the media after getting a tour of the activities, DPM Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security said: "This gives an opportunity for all our agencies on the ground to exercise together in their coordination. It’s a very important part of restoring normalcy after an incident."