'Run, hide, tell' message in anti-terror drills

Hostages (far left): The staged scenarios at a media preview this week involved victims held at gunpoint. The injured (left): Participants learnt how common items can help stop bleeding from gunshot wounds. The rescuers (above): The police entering t
The rescuers (above): The police entering the scene. The staged scenarios are part of a revamped Emergency Preparedness Day event.ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Hostages (far left): The staged scenarios at a media preview this week involved victims held at gunpoint. The injured (left): Participants learnt how common items can help stop bleeding from gunshot wounds. The rescuers (above): The police entering t
Hostages (above): The staged scenarios at a media preview this week involved victims held at gunpoint. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Hostages (far left): The staged scenarios at a media preview this week involved victims held at gunpoint. The injured (left): Participants learnt how common items can help stop bleeding from gunshot wounds. The rescuers (above): The police entering t
The injured (above): Participants learnt how common items can help stop bleeding from gunshot wounds.ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Staged scenarios in heartland aim to sensitise, organise and train S'poreans to protect themselves

The sound of gunshots pierces the midday air, moments before two masked gunmen storm into a heartland coffee shop.

Chaos ensues as people scramble to escape. Five people who are slow to do so are held hostage at gunpoint by their assailants.

A man who manages to get out hides safely behind a pillar and sends an SMS to the police on 71999.

Simulated scenarios similar to this will play out in neighbourhoods across the island, starting in Chong Pang tomorrow and Jurong Spring on Sunday, as Singapore ramps up public education efforts against terrorism.

Members of the public will be able to watch these staged scenarios and learn how they can "Run, Hide, Tell", as advised by the police, in the event of a terrorist attack like the one in the coffee-shop scenario.

"The key now is to go out and sensitise the public, as people tend to take security for granted," said Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Pauline Yee, who heads the community partnership department. "We hope to show the public the kind of scenarios you can expect in a terrorist attack and demonstrate the skills we are training them in."

The staged scenarios are part of a revamped Emergency Preparedness (EP) Day event, which also features training in skills such as first aid, a mobile exhibition and a community skit. The event will be piloted in six constituencies across Singapore over the next few months. It is expected to reach all 89 constituencies in the next two years.

This is the first time that the event, started in 2003, is focusing on counter-terrorism. Previously, EP Days focused on initiatives such as crime prevention and fire safety.

At the event, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will teach residents how common items can be used to stop excessive bleeding from gunshot wounds.

"It has been proven that bleeding is one of the leading causes of death in a traumatic situation. If the bleeding is severe, the person can die in as short as three minutes," said SCDF chief medical officer Ng Yih Yng.

Those caught in a terror attack should find a safe place to hide, before carrying out improvised first aid on the casualties, he advised.

For instance, a towel or T-shirt can be used to press directly on a wound to prevent excessive blood loss and increase the chances of survival before rescue personnel arrive.

"In the case of active bleeding on the limbs, the other option would be to tie the area just above it with a belt or necktie," said Dr Ng.

The revamped EP Day comes under the SG Secure movement announced two months ago, which aims to sensitise, organise and train Singaporeans to protect themselves from a terrorist attack. The pioneer batch of police community engagement officers under the movement has started daily home and community visits to tell residents about EP Day and SG Secure.

Some 1,500 operationally ready national servicemen and over 200 full-time national servicemen will be trained and deployed under this new vocation in the next two years.

On Wednesday, five community engagement officers from Yishun North Neighbourhood Police Centre visited Chong Pang Market and Food Centre to spread the word.

Mr Kelvin Yuen, 46, a fruit stall owner, said: "We need to learn how to protect ourselves when faced with a terror attack because the police cannot be around 24/7."

Stall assistant Sally Tan, 42, a Chong Pang resident of 16 years, said: "With so many attacks overseas recently, we must be prepared as it can happen here too."

She has encouraged her two children, aged eight and 10, to participate in Chong Pang's EP Day. "I want them to understand that the terrorism threat is real. I've told them to teach me all the essential skills that they'll learn."

•The Chong Pang EP Day will be held tomorrow at the Chong Pang City Amphitheatre from 9am to noon. The Jurong Spring EP Day will be held on Sunday at the open space in front of Block 501, Jurong West Street 51, from 9am to 11.30am.

VIDEO: What goes on in a staged scenario http://str.sg/4Jnh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2016, with the headline ''Run, hide, tell' message in anti-terror drills'. Print Edition | Subscribe