Ever vigilant at Star Performing Arts Centre

ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Every month, Mr Zailani Ahmad, senior operations manager at The Star Performing Arts Centre, sits his security staff down for a refresher on emergency evacuation routes and protocols for various scenarios, from bomb threats to gunmen attacks.

It may seem routine, but Mr Zailani does not let up on these sessions. "We have to refresh their knowledge, so everyone knows what to do in the different scenarios," said the 50-year-old, who oversees the management of emergency situations at the centre.

He added that preparations like these can ensure lives will be saved when an emergency breaks out, noting that there have been a number of recent attacks on concert venues abroad.

Four months ago, a suicide bombing at a concert by American pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester, England, killed more than 20 people.

Before an event is held at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Mr Zailani's team looks at the nature of the event and the size of the crowd and then assesses how many personnel are needed and what type of equipment is required.

Security staff and ushers, among other staff members, arrive at least an hour ahead of an event for a briefing, so they know which exits to direct patrons to during an emergency. Besides bag checks, staff are always on the lookout for suspicious characters.

ALWAYS PREPARED

We do not know what is going to happen, but we must find ways to mitigate it before something happens.

MR ZAILANI AHMAD, senior operations manager at The Star Performing Arts Centre.

The security team's coordination has to be tight, said Mr Zailani, who works closely with agencies to strengthen safety and anti-terror measures.

Given the current security climate, the venue is in the midst of improving its measures. In the past few years, it has increased its security manpower and added more closed-circuit television cameras to monitor some blind spots. Next month, it will be bringing in explosives trace detectors.

"We want to ensure that people who come to our venue feel safe," he added. "We do not know what is going to happen, but we must find ways to mitigate it before something happens."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 24, 2017, with the headline 'Ever vigilant at Star Performing Arts Centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe