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     Singapore carries out first large-scale anti-terror drill

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FAQ to Exercise NorthStar V

Q1.      What is Exercise NorthStar V?

A:         Since 1997, the SCDF had conducted numerous civil emergency exercises  involving related agencies with varied scenarios ranging from air crash to chemical agent attack incidents.

While the conduct of such exercise is not new, however Exercise NorthStar V is Singapore*s first surprise large-scale civil emergency exercise with 22 participating HomeFront agencies and involving the disruption of public train services.

Q2.      Why is there a need to conduct such an exercise?

A:         The recent multiple terrorist attacks on the public transport networks in Madrid and London set the groundwork for Singapore to prepare itself for a similar attack. However, the conduct of this exercise does not mean that there is a real threat of an imminent attack on our public transport network.

This exercise is part of the on-going efforts to sharpen the operational readiness of the Homefront agencies in responding to multiple terror attacks.  

It is also to validate the emergency response system of and coordination between the various government ministries, agencies, public transport operators and NGOs in a large-scale, multi-location incident.

Besides, it serves as a good platform to involve commuters in a move to build their confidence and over time, to prepare them in knowing how to react in similar crisis situations. 

Q3.      What is the exercise scenario?

A:         The scenario for the exercise is similar to that of the London Bombings on 7 July 05 that is near-simultaneous bomb blasts in the trains at the station platform and in the trains traveling into the tunnel.

In addition, a new scenario has been introduced that is the release of chemical agents at the platform at one of the stations.

Q4.      What is the duration and exact locations of the exercise? 

A:         The exercise is about 3 hours, commencing at 6.25am on Sunday, 8th Jan 06 and

ends at 9.30am on the same day.

There are a total of 5 exercise locations namely:

a.                   Dhobby Ghaut Train Station;

b.                  Toa Payoh Train Station;

c.                   Raffles Place Train Station;

d.                  Marina Bay Train Station;

e.                   Toa Payoh Bus Interchange.

Q5.      Will bus and train services be disrupted during the exercise and what is the duration of such disruption?

A:         While the exercise is confined to only 4 train stations operated by both SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation however due to the interconnected nature of the train network, temporarily disruption of train services will affect a total of 13 train stations.

The 13 stations will be closed throughout the duration of the exercise that is from 6.25am to 9.30am.  

They are namely:

1.                  Braddell

2.                  Toa Payoh

3.                  Novena

4.                  Newton

5.                  Orchard

6.                  Somerset

7.                  Dhobby Ghaut

8.                  Clarke Quay

9.                  City Hall

10.              Raffles Place

11.              Tanjong Pagar

12.              Marina Bay

13.              Chinatown

 

Bus services at the Toa Payoh Bus Interchange will resume as per normal as only a small section of the bus interchange is closed during the exercise.

Q6.      Why is there a need to disrupt train services during the exercise?

A:         Simulations in the form of thunderflashes, smoke and fire simulators will be used to create simultaneous bomb attacks by terrorists so as to inject a realistic exercise scenario. Apart from dummy mannequins, &live* casualties will also be deployed at stations* platform and in the trains to portray injured commuters and fatalities. Trains will also be stalled within the tunnel and commuters will be evacuated through the tunnel to the nearest train station.

To facilitate such elaborate scenario and the conduct of the large-scale exercise, there is a need to temporarily disrupt train services and close 13 train stations.

Q7.      Will commuters who are caught in the exercise be trapped for a long period   of time in the stalled train or in the train tunnel?

A:         Upon the commencement of the exercise, no commuters will be trapped in the stations, trains or tunnels.

All commuters who are in the &exercised* trains and at the stations* platform will immediately be guided and evacuated out of the stations.

For commuters who are in the &exercised* train/s that are stalled in the tunnel, they will also be immediately guided to evacuate from the tunnel to the nearest train station.    

As the safety of the commuters is critical to the conduct of the exercise, personnel from the SCDF and staff from SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation will be at hand to guide the commuters in the evacuation process and direct them to the alternative mode of transportation i.e the shuttle bus services. Special attention will also be given to pregnant ladies, the elderly, young children and those who are in need of assistance during the evacuation process.

Q8.      Are the exercise sites accessible to members of the public?

A:         While the commuters in transit are participating in the exercise as evacuees, the Police will be exercising strict cordon enforcement at the 4 x train stations/exercise sites  (Dhobby Ghaut, Toa Payoh, Raffles Place and Marina Bay stations). Hence, members of the public who are outside these exercised train stations will not be allowed access into the stations.

Roads within the immediate exercise vicinity will also be closed to traffic from 6.30am to 9.30am.

These are:        

Partial Closure:

a.         1 leftmost lane of Toa Payoh Lorong 2 towards PIE.

b.         1 leftmost lane of Marina Station Road and Marina Street closest to Marina Bay MRT Station.

c.         2 leftmost lanes of Orchard Road after Istana till junction of Oldham Lane.

d.         1 leftmost lane of Church Street (between Phillip Street and Market

Street).

e.         1 leftmost lane stretching from Battery Road to Church Street.

Full Closure:

f.                    D*Almedia Street

g.                   Malacca Street.

h.                   Oldham Lane

Q9.      Is the public informed of the exercise upon its commencement?

A:         The exercise date, time and locations have never been disclosed to the public in order to instill surprise and create a sense of realism to the entire exercise. However, in order to ensure public inconveniences is kept to the minimum and to alley undue public alarm, a series of nation-wide and localized publicity, announcements and alerts have been carried out.  

Pre-Exercise Day:

Since 27 Dec 05, members of the public have been pre-warned of the upcoming exercise to be held in the first 2 weeks of Jan 06 by means of print and broadcast local media reporting as well as exercise posters (in the 4 official languages) being placed at all train stations and bus interchanges.

On Exercise Day:

On the day of the exercise (8th Jan 06),

Nation-wide:

Announcements or alerts are continuously made by the local media in 4 official languages (where applicable) as follows:  

 

> (6.15 每 6.24)am        :           MediaCorp TV (crawler message) and Radio will

inform the public that Ex NorthStar V will be conducted this morning across the public train network.

 

> (6.25 每 9.29)am          :         MediaCorp TV (teletext), Radio & website and

TV Mobile (in public buses) as well as SCDF website will inform the public of the:

-         Duration and locations of the exercise;

-         road and stations closure;

-         temporary disruption to train services; and

-         availability of shuttle bus services.

 

> (9.30 每 10.30)am         :        MediaCorp TV (crawler message & teletext), Radio & website and TV Mobile (in public buses) as well as SCDF website will inform the public of the termination of the exercise and the resumption of the train services.

Localized:

Localized announcements or alerts have also been arranged with Land Transport Authority (LTA), SBS Transit, SMRT Corporation and Ministry of Health (MOH) as follows:

> (6.15 每 9.30)am             :     &Exercise-In-Progress* signboards are prominently displayed at:

-  all entrances of the 13 train stations that are  

   affected by service disruption;

-  at the Toa Payoh Bus Interchange: and

-  at all participating hospitals and polyclinics.

            > (6.15 每 9.29)am             :     EMAS signboards will alert motorists traveling

along specific highways to avoid particular exercise road/s.

> By 6.25am                      :     Commuters will be alerted to the commencement of the exercise via the in-train and in-station announcements (in 4 official languages) as well as text messages appearing in the stations* visual passenger information systems.

> By 9.30am                      :     Commuters will be alerted to the termination of the exercise via the in-train and in-station announcements (in 4 official languages) as well as text messages appearing in the stations* visual passenger information systems.

Q10.    I am a commuter who is caught in this surprise exercise and my train ride/

journey is now disrupted, how can I:

(c)    make claims with regards to my travel fare which I had already paid?

(d)   resume my journey?

A:         (a)        For matters relating to train services, commuters can call 1800-336 8900 (for those traveling on SMRT train) or 1800- 287-2727 (for those traveling on SBS Transit train).

(b)        Commuters whose journey is affected by the train service disruption can board the free shuttle bus services provided by SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation. These buses are stationed at the bus-stops outside the 13 affected train stations to shuttle commuters to the next available train station/s in enabling them to resume their journey with minimum inconveniences.

In facilitating commuters to take this alternative mode of transportation, SCDF personnel as well as staff and volunteers (called &Goodwill Ambassadors*) from SBS Transit and SMRT are deployed and directional signs are put up at the 13 affected stations to guide commuters to the free shuttle bus services. Notices on the detailed routes of these free shuttle bus services are also displayed at the affected train stations.

Q11.    My office is within the exercise cordoned area. Can I be allowed to enter my office to complete my work?  

A:         During the 3 hours exercise duration, from 6.25am to 9.30am, Police cordons will be established and enforced at the 4 x exercise locations (Dhobby Ghaut, Toa Payoh, Raffles Place and Marina Bay stations) in view of the exercise coordination and massive activities, which include the deployment and placement of  emergency appliances at these exercise sites.

During this period, when the police cordon is in place, owners, occupants or tenants of office premises and commercial buildings within the immediate exercise vicinity may approach our officers if there is an urgent need to enter these affected areas.

MRT                                  Contact
Toa Payoh MRT                 DSP Raymond Chong - 96636930
Marina Bay MRT                DSP Rosalind Sam - 98164344
Raffles MRT                       ASP Wang Jze - 98271359
Dhobby Ghaut MRT           ASP How Kwang Hwee - 96750637

The success of this Civil Emergency Exercise depends not only on the participating agencies but also on the support rendered by members of the public, especially the commuters and building occupants and tenants who are inevitably affected by the exercise. We hereby seek your kind understanding and deeply appreciate you support and cooperation.  

Source: www.mha.gov.sg Press Release 8 Jan 2006