It is no longer just an agency or ministry initiative to get the people prepared for emergencies.
Individuals are taking the effort.
More Singaporeans and permanent residents are learning first aid and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation with many doing this at the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s four division headquarters.
In fact more grassroots leaders have taken ownership of community emergency preparedness.
They are not just participating in scenario planning exercises and walking through the types of responses required in crisis situations but helping to conduct these exercises and getting others emergency savvy too.
Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee revealed this in Parliament on 11 April 2010 when Sembawang GRC MP Ellen Lee asked whether Singapore is prepared for major disasters similar in magnitude and impact to the recent earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.
Individuals taking the initiative are one aspect of the community getting prepared for emergencies.
For the last five years the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) has made good progress in boosting community resilience and preparedness by engaging community sectors such as businesses, religious and community leaders and grassroots organisations.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is the secretariat and coordinating agency for the national programme.
The Home Team has introduced its own outreach programmes over the years.
Some programmes impart emergency preparedness mindset and skills like basic first aid and fire-safety.
One example is the Emergency Preparedness Day exercises.
Singapore Civil Defence Force conducts 48 such events with grassroots organisations in a year.
Other programmes focus on segments of the community like the Residents’ Committees and Neighbourhood Market Associations under the Safety and Security Watch Group programme.
Another example is the Singapore Police Force’s Project Guardian where private security officers are trained in key emergency functions like emergency communication, evacuation and traffic control.
Getting the community and individuals emergency savvy is only one of the three fronts Singapore is reinforcing the country’s resilience.
The other two is at the emergency leadership and agency level.
Assoc Prof Ho said the Government’s Homefront Crisis Management System is activated when a crisis like a terrorist incident, major accident or flu pandemic hits Singapore.
The Whole-of-Government response is led by the Ministry of Home Affairs who works closely with other Ministries and agencies.
At an agency level, civil defence and disaster management organisations are constantly improving their operational capabilities to handle disasters and crises.
Assoc Prof Ho said Singapore’s efforts are wide-ranging and continue to be a “work-in-progress”.
“But we all know that to derive maximum outcomes from these efforts, they cannot just be driven centrally by the government, with Singaporeans just completing activities or attending courses,” he said.
“Whilst these are useful, what must under gird them is a mindset and social compact that we will continue to look out for one another.”