3 new TEL train stations to serve as emergency shelters

A SCDF officer demonstrating how those seeking shelter during a chemical attack must go through the decontamination process.
A SCDF officer demonstrating how those seeking shelter during a chemical attack must go through the decontamination process.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
The stations are equipped with blast doors that will protect those within.
The stations are equipped with blast doors that will protect those within.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The opening of Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) Stage 2 on Saturday (Aug 28) means there will be three more emergency shelters added to the existing network here - Lentor, Mayflower and Bright Hill MRT stations.

With the three latest shelters, there are now 584 civil defence shelters, of which 52 are in underground MRT stations. More will be added over time to shelter more people, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

Like the other shelters, the three stations have been reinforced with air vents that can be shut in the event of chemical warfare - restricting air exchange in and out of the underground shelter but also minimising the amount of contaminated air entering it.

The SCDF said it did a study which showed that this method of protection is effective, reducing exposure to safe levels, based on international toxic chemical exposure guidelines.

All those entering the shelter during a chemical attack will have to remove their clothes and decontaminate themselves using specially developed wipes, in cubicles that are separated by gender.

A standard-issue change of clothes will then be provided.

Other than underground MRT stations, shelters have been built in schools, community centres and selected public buildings. People are expected to seek shelter in these designated areas in the event of a bombing or chemical attacks.

The SCDF demonstrated to the media how the shelter at Bright Hill station worked last month.

Its maximum capacity is 6,000 people, and the station is equipped with a heavy blast door that will protect those within it.

Those seeking shelter enter through a side door, go through the decontamination process, and descend the escalators to the platform where there are boxes drawn to split people into groups.

To maintain order, people will be told not to intermingle between groups and to stay in their zones.

There are dry toilets installed that people can use without water. Instead, people will be issued an absorbent mat, dry tissue paper, wet wipes and a disposal bag.

Instructions on their use will be displayed in prominent places.

During a conventional, non-chemical attack, the platform doors may be opened so more people can seek shelter in the trains parked at the station. These platform doors will, however, be closed during a chemical attack, meaning that no one will be able to shelter on the trains.

Assistant Commissioner Yazid Abdullah, director of SCDF's volunteer and community partnership department, said having shelters that can also protect against chemical attacks is a response to the evolving landscape.

"SCDF strives to build an emergency-ready nation that is prepared for any situation."