Key questions in defence against terrorism

While it is important to have an effective Home Team and Singapore Armed Forces to defend us against a terrorist attack ("Soldiers to step up patrols, training to combat terror"; April 8), our defence is only as good as the readiness of the last person on the street to prevent, respond to and recover from such an attack.

Perhaps we need to develop a checklist of key questions to help individuals, families, groups and organisations design a crisis-response plan.

The quality of our defence depends very much on the quality of questions that we pose to ourselves, and our responses.

For example, how should we take responsibility for our own security when we are in Singapore or overseas? How should we stay vigilant in reporting suspicious activities and preventing terrorist attacks?

How should we prepare emergency kits and store them in appropriate places? How should we use them during a crisis?

How should realistic practices be carried out so that we are operationally ready and confident in managing a crisis and in taking appropriate protective measures?

How should we shut down any damaged equipment or utility, so that it will not pose any risk or danger to people and the environment?

How should we continue to live normally and pursue the joy of life without falling into a state of unhealthy fear and paranoia? How should we ensure that there will not be any confusion, anxiety and conflict among us that will affect our unity as a people?

How should we ensure healthy and regular communication so that there will not be any unnecessary fear and hindrance to proper crisis management? As social media can spread real and perceived news faster than mainstream media, how should we contain negative publicity in a proactive way?

How should we be trained to look after one another and provide first aid and other assistance to victims of an attack? How should we check on and look after our neighbours, especially those who are sick, elderly or physically challenged?

How should we confine, protect and secure our pets and other animals? How should we be reunited with our loved ones in a safe location, should we be separated during an attack?

The sooner we bring our people up to speed in responding to a potential crisis, the stronger will be our total defence and fight against current and future terrorists.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)