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Exercise Northstar 10 – Multiple Agencies Respond to “Terror Incident” at Changi Airport
Phase 1 of Exercise Northstar 10, a multi-agency counter-terrorism exercise led by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), was held at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on 17 October 2017.

It was 1.30 am on 17 October 2017 when members of public at Changi Airport Terminal 3 first heard a commotion stirring from the terminal’s underground MRT station.

It was soon accompanied by sounds of gunshots as armed men disembarked from the train and fired shots at commuters.

Amidst the shouts and panic, SMRT train staff opened the gantries and ushered commuters to safety, as emergency first responders arrived to take down the gunmen.

Safeguarding Our Transport Hubs

“Sir, I know first aid, I can help,” Ms Praveetha d/o Nithiah Nandan shouted as she emerged from the station’s control room with a first aid kit in tow.

The 30-year-old had received first aid training before her attachment as Assistant Station Manager to Changi Airport MRT Station. She started applying her first aid skills to a young man nearest to the gantry, who laid on the floor groaning.


Home Team News
Assistant Station Manager to Changi Airport MRT Station Ms Praveetha d/o Nithiah Nandan (in red) assists one of the 'injured' during Exercise Northstar 10 at Changi Airport. PHOTO: Nizam Neti
 

“You are going to be ok,” she told her charge, as she began tying a tourniquet.

The action soon moved from the train station to the Departure Hall where a “suicide bomber” detonated his bomb and several people were injured.

We Will Be Ready

Senior Staff Sergeant (SSSgt) Norshidah Bte Sulaiman from the SPF role-played as a first responder during the exercise.

The 38-year-old joined the Police in 2003, and is currently a Ground Response Force officer at the Airport Police Division. Should Changi Airport fall siege to a terrorist attack, SSSgt Norshidah and her teammates would be among the first to arrive due to the proximity of their station.

“We will be there and we will be ready… This is a real threat and we need to take it seriously,” she said.


Home Team News
Senior Staff Sergeant Norshidah Bte Sulaiman (right) from the SPF role-playing as a first responder during Exercise Northstar 10 at Changi Airport. PHOTO: Olivier Lee
 

“Changi Airport is a gateway to visitors from other countries… and it is precisely because we have different visitors from foreign countries coming into Singapore that we need to keep Changi Airport as safe as possible,” she added.

 

Ms Praveetha from SMRT shared a similar sentiment.

“We have to be prepared for such a thing, and I think an exercise would actually prepare all of us to be ready if a terrorist attack were to happen,” she said.

During the exercise, staff from SMRT Corporation and CAG practised their SGSecure skills, such as ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ and improvised first aid using the ‘Press, Tie, Tell’ method.

Responding to a snatch-rescue operation of ‘casualties’ as part of Exercise Northstar Phase 1, Changi Fire Station Rota Commander Lieutenant (LTA) Muhammad Taufiq Hidajat felt that these exercises were crucial to reassure the public that the Home Team is ready for crises.


Home Team News
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong observes as first responders from SCDF treat simulated casulties during Exercise Northstar 10 Phase 1 at Changi Airport. PHOTO: Nizam Neti
 

Particularly for SCDF, participating in such exercises as part of the larger Home Team, we are able to give confidence to the public in our capabilities to handle such situations,” the 27-year-old said.

The nature of such exercises also encourages Home Team officers to “think out of the box”, as the scenarios tend to be very dynamic, according to LTA Taufiq.

“We have not faced such a scenario in real life. Going through such an exercise helps us be better prepared and improve our response,” he added.

Counter-Terrorism Exercise – A First for Changi Airport

Phase 1 of Exercise Northstar 10, a multi-agency counter-terrorism exercise led by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) simulated a terrorist attack at Changi Airport. These included a shooting rampage by gunmen, a suicide bombing and the disarmament of a bomb.

This was the first time such an exercise was conducted at the airport, as part of ongoing efforts to validate Whole-of-Government (WOG) operational plans to respond to possible terror attacks in Singapore.

“If you look around the world, more than one airport has had a terrorist attack and Changi Airport is a high profile target, and completely plausible that something like this might happen in Singapore,” said Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong, who was at the airport to observe the exercise.


Home Team News
Role-players fall to the ground after a simulated explosion at Changi Airport Terminal 3. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

More than 650 personnel from the SPF, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Changi Airport Group (CAG), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Singapore Armed Forces, SMRT Corporation and Ministry of Health participated in the exercise.

 

“And if it does happen, we must be quite sure that our responders are ready for it. We know what to do, we know how to work together, we know whose to go where and we react in such a way as to minimise the casualties and deal with threat as quickly as possible,” he added.

Exercise Northstar Phase 2, which will be led by the SCDF, will be held on 28 October 2017.

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Desmond Ang
  2. 23 October 2017
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