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Home Team News Home / News / Exercise Northstar 10: SCDF ORNSmen Work Alongside Community Partners to Hone Crisis Response  
Published: 03 Nov 2017 10:10AM (Singapore)
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Exercise Northstar 10: SCDF ORNSmen Work Alongside Community Partners to Hone Crisis Response
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Led by the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the second phase of Exercise Northstar 10, a multi-agency emergency response exercise, showcased the Whole-of-Government response to safeguard Singapore and the community’s ability to return to normalcy in the event of a crisis.
 
By Desmond Ang
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When Staff Sergeant (SSgt) (NS) Christopher Chen first enlisted with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) as a firefighter in 2006, he had little clue about what to expect from his National Service (NS) experience.

“The work was tough and the training was very tiring. Every day after I reached the bunk, I just lay flat and closed my eyes. However, looking back over past 10 years, I find that these skills are all very relevant,” the 30-year-old said.

If he rode past any traffic accidents that looked like aid was needed, SSgt (NS) Christopher would stop and offer assistance. He’s responded to five traffic accidents to date, and has even extinguished a few small fires.

SSgt Chris posing for a photo
Staff Sergeant (SSgt) (NS) Christopher Chen, a senior airport emergency officer with Changi Airport Group, found that his NS experience with the Singapore Civil Defence Force has helped develop emergency preparedness skills needed during his day job. PHOTO: Olivier Lee

SSgt (NS) Christopher was one of 500 participants who were mobilised at the Home Team Tactical Centre on 28 October 2017 for Phase 2 of Exercise Northstar.

Phase 2 of a Multi-Agency Emergency Response Exercise

Led by the SCDF, the second phase of the multi-agency emergency response exercise showcased the Whole-of-Government response to safeguard Singapore and hone the community’s ability to return to normalcy in the event of a crisis. It also highlighted the community partners’ role in the SGSecure national movement.

This year’s exercise scenario simulated a terrorist attack at a mixed-use premise that housed a shopping centre, a residential complex and bus interchange. Two vehicle bomb blasts by terrorists had resulted in collapsed structures and mass casualties.

“Singapore might face a similar scenario in the future with the rise of terrorist threats. Scenarios such as today’s bombing and subsequent building collapse are very possible,” said SSgt (NS) Christopher, who is also Company Sergeant Major for the SCDF’s 51 Rescue Battalion.

ORNSmen Deployed for the First Time

This is the first time that an SCDF Rescue Battalion was involved in Exercise Northstar, with about 200 Operationally Ready National Servicemen from the 51 Rescue Battalion deployed to conduct and assist in rescue operations.

“All the repeated training over the years has definitely helped to strengthen our mindsets and enabled us to react to the situation accordingly,” stressed SSgt (NS) Christopher.

The exercise involved public officers from 10 key agencies, including some 40 community volunteers from the People’s Association’s (PA) Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the SCDF’s Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit, National Civil Defence Cadet Corps and Civil Defence Lionhearters.

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Some 40 community volunteers, including cadets from the National Civil Defence Corps, participated in phase 2 of Exercise Northstar 10. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

During the exercise, the volunteers worked with the SCDF’s Medical Platoon from the ORNS Rescue Battalion to treat casualties at First Aid Points.

Having spent 15 years as an ORNSman with the SCDF, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Razid Bin Saad, Deputy Battalion Commander of 51 Rescue Battalion, makes it a point to always remind his men to “do their best, but always take the necessary safety precautions”.

Preparing for Real-Life Scenarios

“You can’t really prepare for everything. Things are quite fluid, so that is why we try not to overthink. Just be ready for it, be safe and do our best,” the 40-year-old said.

He also explained that the exercise helped his men to prepare for real-life scenarios that would usually involve non-SCDF personnel, adding greater dimension to their training.

“We know it is not real when it’s training. But today’s exercise was more realistic because it involved people who are not from the SCDF,” he added.

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A volunteer from the People’s Association’s Community Emergency Response Team participating during Phase 2 of Exercise Northstar 10. PHOTO: Olivier Lee

Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security observed the exercise, together with Minister for Home Affairs and Law Mr K Shanmugam and Second Minister for Home Affairs Ms Josephine Teo.

“We had an exercise at Changi Airport and today we have an exercise that started out with a vehicle bombing at a populated area. This gives an opportunity for all our agencies on the ground to exercise together and improve their coordination. It’s a very important part of restoring to normalcy after an incident,” said Mr Teo.

DPM at EX Northstar Phase II
Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security observing a Ground Deployment Exercise on 28 October 2017. PHOTO: Nizam Neti

Find out how the Home Team is honing its emergency response through a series of counter-terrorism exercises:

Exercise Northstar 10 - Multiple Agencies Respond to "Terror" Incident at Changi Airport

Home Team Maritime Security Tested at Exercise Highcrest 2017

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