National-level Emergency Response Exercise
On 22 March 2023, a multi-agency counterterrorism exercise took place at Jurong Island. Called "Exercise Northstar", it is a national-level emergency response exercise to test the readiness of agencies in the event of major crises. The exercise was first introduced in 1997.
This year’s exercise involved more than 300 personnel from agencies and stakeholders such as the public healthcare institutions, SCDF, Singapore Police Force, Singapore Armed Forces, JTC, ExxonMobil, Maritime Port Authority of Singapore, and the Home Team Science and Technology Agency. Planning for this year’s exercise began two years ago, with the last edition in 2017 simulated at Changi Airport.
Amongst the 300 personnel were some of our own doctors, nurses and Emergency Planning colleagues. Despite the grueling weather, everyone was enthusiastic and had many learning points from this national-level emergency response exercise.
Let's hear from our colleagues who took part in the exercise!
"I am awed by the scale of the exercise, the amount of effort and pre-planning that went into organising this exercise! This exercise has given me a good background of how a field medical team works i.e. how they respond to emergency situations, what equipment they brought onto the field and the roles and responsibilities of team members.
It was a good experience for staff to gain a better idea of how emergency responses are coordinated across different agencies in the country and how important it is for all of us to carry out our respective roles and responsibilities."
- Dr Chan Wun Yhee (Emergency Department)
"The detail of realism amazed me as many real-life equipment were deployed during the exercise. The team involved in the exercise had carried out their duties as they would in a real situation. Their commitment and effort put into the exercise was commendable.
Many new developments from the ministry was implemented during the exercise. One of it was the Operational Medical Networks Informatics Integrator (OMNII), a joint project between SCDF and the Ministry of Health (MOH). This platform allows paramedics to share a patient's vital signs in real time en route to the hospital, improving the patient's level of care.
Staff could better prepare themselves for emergency incidents scenarios with drills in place. This would allow them to have a better understanding of the flow of care needed in an emergency incident, from site to the hospital. They would also have a better appreciation on the processes in place before patients are being brought into the hospital. They would also be able to refresh their skills etc. on triaging of patient and how to manage it “the field way”."
- Mr Liew Zhi Ming (Emergency Planning)
"During the exercise, I learnt that it was essential to collaborate with various uniform groups such as the SPF, SAF & SCDF in managing casualties smoothly and seamlessly. It is important that our staff are aware of the various permutation of incidents that may potentially have large numbers of victims or casualties such as chemical exposure, bomb blasts, terrorist attacks, and natural disaster. Regular training and exercises are important to ensure that we are always ready to serve the community and react accordingly."
- SSN Logeswary Rajoo (EDTU)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who witnessed the exercise, shared that Singapore has to "take these exercises very seriously" in order to deal with a range of terrorist threats.
Other political officeholders present included Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen, Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo, and Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad.
Read more on the 11th edition of Exercise Northstar here.
Check out some photos below!