Counter-terrorism exercise held in hotel in Singapore for the first time

About 50 personnel from the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport were involved in Exercise Heartbeat, which simulates terror attacks, on May 17, 2019.
About 50 personnel from the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport were involved in Exercise Heartbeat, which simulates terror attacks, on May 17, 2019.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
About 50 personnel from the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport were involved in Exercise Heartbeat, which simulates terror attacks, on May 17, 2019.
About 50 personnel from the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport were involved in Exercise Heartbeat, which simulates terror attacks, on May 17, 2019.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
About 50 personnel from the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport were involved in Exercise Heartbeat, which simulates terror attacks, on May 17, 2019.
About 50 personnel from the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport were involved in Exercise Heartbeat, which simulates terror attacks, on May 17, 2019.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Three "gunmen" stormed into the lobby of Crowne Plaza Changi Airport at 4pm on Friday (May 17), aiming their pistols at tourists and hotel staff.

And like dominoes, bodies fell over one by one as the gunmen sprayed bullets in every direction.

Two of the gunmen then entered the bar upstairs, while the remaining one ran towards the ballroom, shooting at anyone left standing.

But before they could cause more "mayhem", officers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Gurkha Contingent took them down in less than five minutes.

The shootout was part of Exercise Heartbeat, which simulates terror attacks. The latest iteration is the first time the exercise, jointly organised by organised by the SPF and Ministry of Manpower (MOM), took place in a hotel.

SPF and MOM have been working closely with hotel industry partners in Singapore to enhance their emergency preparedness and security measures against security threats.

The counter-terrorism exercise highlights the importance of a robust contingency response plan for hotels against terrorist threats, in the light of the recent hotel and church bombings in Sri Lanka which took place on Easter Sunday last month.

A series of bombs exploded on April 21 in the country, killing 258 people and leaving at least 500 injured.

 

While Singapore has not experienced an attack, MP Christopher De Souza, who observed the exercise, said it is paramount that Singaporeans remain vigilant.

"Events in Sri Lanka brought home to us that we need to be vigilant and respond as one community."

"We need to be diligently preparing, swift in our response and have solidarity in our community after every attack," said Mr De Souza, who is also the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law.

Exercise Heartbeat, which started in 2009, has been carried out islandwide in public locations such as the Esplanade, National Library and Clarke Quay.

In Friday's exercise, about 50 personnel from the SPF, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the hotel were involved.

SPF officers worked in tandem with their SCDF counterparts, escorting them as they evacuated casualties, in case of further attacks.

Hotel staff also helped to administer first aid to casualties, as part of established risk management processes and frameworks put in place at the hotel.

Mr Bruno Cristol, 55, the general manager of Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, said: "Participating in this exercise raises our level of emergency preparedness.

"The safety of our guests and staff is our number one priority."

The hotel uses resources from the SGSecure @ Workplaces programme, among other things, to train its staff to be vigilant against the terror threat and to be familiar with the emergency response procedures.

MOM is encouraging businesses to join the SGSecure @ Workplaces programme and raise their workplace preparedness in response to terror threats. 

Businesses should also put in place continuity plans to enable their operations to recover and return to normalcy quickly, the ministry said.