Published: 28 February 2017
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how are the Home Team and public transport operators prepared to handle arson attacks in the MRT trains; (b) how can the public be involved to support Home Team's efforts; and (c) how can Singapore's readiness to respond to attacks in our public transport system be enhanced.
1. Our Home Team Departments and the Public Transport Operators (PTOs) are prepared to deal with emergencies in MRT trains, including fires. In the event of a fire, the automatic fire detection system in the train will be triggered to alert the station staff and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). There are established procedures to evacuate commuters to safety and to deal with different situations, regardless of whether the fire occurs when the train is at the station or on the tracks.
2. Upon arrival, the SCDF will put out the fire, rescue and provide medical assistance to the injured, while the Police will maintain law and order. The Home Team Departments and the PTOs conduct regular exercises to validate and familiarise ground officers with such emergency response protocols.
3. The cause of the fire may be deliberate. In the evening of 10 Feb 2017, a 60-year old man tried to hurl a lit Molotov cocktail into a packed Mass Transit Railway (MTR) train in Hong Kong. The incident resulted in injuries to commuters and disruption to the MTR's services.
4. Arson attacks such as these, whether the act of a criminal or a terrorist, call for a heightened level of vigilance and preparedness. The Police formed the Public Transport Security Command (TransCom) in 2009 to conduct security patrols of our public transport system, including our MRT trains and stations. TransCom officers are trained to look out for suspicious persons and approach them for further checks. They are also the first line of response to any security incidents in the public transport system.
5. The community plays an important role in our efforts to fight terrorism on a sustained basis. SGSecure was launched to sensitise, train and mobilise Singaporeans to play their part to prevent and deal with a terrorist attack. The Home Team has developed advisories and applications to equip and prepare our community in the event of an attack. These include:
a. The 'Run, Hide, Tell' advisory which guides the public on how to respond when an attack occurs.
b.The new SMS71999 platform to allow the public to SMS the Police if they see something suspicious.
c.The Police@SG app's i-Witness function which enables users to point, shoot and send information on major incidents and crime to support Police's investigation.
d.The 'Improvised First Aid Skills' advisory which teaches the public how to use everyday items to help administer first aid to injured persons in the event of an attack.
e.The SG Secure E-learning package which allows the public to carry out e-learning at their own pace and pick up useful survival skills to stay vigilant, cohesive and resilient.
f. Since the launch of the SGSecure movement, MHA has been working closely with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the PTOs to equip frontline staff with knowledge and skills to respond to a terror attack.
7. The PTOs currently train some of their staff in first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of the automated external defibrillator (AED). The PTOs also support SGSecure's public awareness efforts by putting up relevant safety advisories such as Run-Hide-Tell and Improvised First Aid Skills in MRT stations. Video messages that remind commuters to be vigilant are also broadcasted at the station platforms and in the trains.
8. The Home Team will continue to work with the PTOs to build on the current training and outreach initiatives, including conducting exercises that enhance their preparedness in the event of a terror attack. One such example was Exercise Heartbeat which involved one of the PTOs conducted in September 2016 at Bishan Bus Interchange and Junction 8.