There was an explosion followed by bursts of gun fire. People were screaming and shouting for help, blood dripping from their faces. Lifeless bodies were strewn all over the carpark. The smell of smoke and charred remains pierces the air. In the distance, the wailing of the sirens could be heard.

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Simulated chemical attack

This was the scene from Exercise Northstar 9; a drill that simulates real life scenarios to test and validate multiple agencies emergency response to a major incident.

More than 600 personnel from over 15 agencies took part in the emergency preparedness exercise, and for the first time, it also involved 1,300 volunteers – including students who took on different roles in the various exercise scenarios.

The pictures during the drill were impressive. Rescue personnel donned Hazmat suits to mitigate a chemical attack, firefighters went all out to put out a car that was set on fire and the police sent in their crack units to overcome the simulated attack by gunmen.

Why all the effort for a mock drill? Singapore has been safe so far and Singaporeans are a rational bunch. We won’t blow ourselves up in public. Why do we have to commit so many resources for a drill?

Singapore must never rest on its laurels. Terrorism is not defined by race, color or geographic location. It can happen to any community when they least expected it.

Remember Boston Marathon 2013, Mumbai bombings in 2011 and London bombings in 2005.

None of them expected such carnage and damage from the attacks.

“Singapore must take these threads seriously. We must keep vigilant even as we continue with national events like SG50.” – Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen

“They are crowd simulators, they are pretending to be casualties, but they are learning something as well, and I think many of these volunteers actually will be participating in the SEA Games either as competitors or in the opening ceremony, and so I think we are inoculating ourselves just in case anything happens,” said Prime Minister Lee.

Singapore has come a long way to finally be able to celebrate its 50th birthday with aplomb. We will not compromise our safety and security of our future generations.  Better train now than be caught off guard. These drills can only serve as a reminder to all of us.

Source: Channel News Asia