All must be up to speed in crisis preparedness

During a major emergency, it is unlikely that the authorities will have adequate personnel and other resources to address every challenge.

Therefore, they have to engage the help of the people and galvanise resources from the public to respond to and recover from such attacks.

They should brief the people on how to stay calm and be patient, and implement an effective crisis-response plan. Realistic drills should be carried out so that the people are not only operationally ready, but will also know how to improve plans and outcomes.

There should be a system in place to recruit and retain volunteers to help in carrying out crisis-response plans and activities.

Singaporeans should recognise that the threat of a terrorist attack exists - whether they are in Singapore or in another country.

They should, therefore, take responsibility for their own security and stay vigilant to report suspicious activities and prevent terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, they should continue to pursue the joy of life and not live in a constant state of fear and paranoia. We should never allow terrorists to sow confusion, anxiety and conflict among us, and affect our relationship with other people.

Every family, enterprise and community should prepare emergency kits with all the necessary materials needed during an emergency, and store them in a convenient location.

The kit should include first-aid and medical resources, food and water, smoke masks, radio, torchlight, multi-tool or utility penknife, duct tape, toiletries and clothing.

Bomb shelters should be cleared of non-essentials and be ready for use during an emergency.

Any damaged equipment should be shut down so that it will not pose any risk or danger to people or the environment.

Our people need to know how to check on and look after their neighbours, especially those who are sick, elderly or physically challenged.

Just as importantly, they should know how to confine, protect and secure their pets and other animals.

They should also know how to provide first aid and other assistance to victims of an attack.

Should the public communication systems break down, they must know how to reconnect with their loved ones, colleagues and other relevant parties. There should be contingency plans on how to meet their loved ones in a safe location should they be separated during an attack.

Suffice it to say, there are many other crisis-response plans and activities.

The sooner we bring our people up to speed, the stronger our total defence against terrorists will be.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2016, with the headline 'All must be up to speed in crisis preparedness'. Print Edition | Subscribe