Anti-Terror drills in Singapore: Schools enhance emergency drills

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Don't be alarmed if your kids tell you that terrorists invaded their school! Read on to find out about the emergency drills that schools in Singapore are conducting.

Imagine your eight-year-old comes home from school in a concoction of fear and terror and tells you that some bad guys stormed into his school that morning? Don’t be alarmed just yet mums! Anti-terror drills in Singapore are taking place extensively and schools are joining in too! 

For the first time in history, schools are actively conducting ‘lockdown’ drills. Schools are simulating terrorist attacks and hostage situations. Teachers and students are locking themselves in classrooms and practising how to hide in silence. Anti-terror drills in Singapore schools are training the children how to react and manage themselves in the event of such an incident.

Emergency drills are not at all new to our students. They have been in place since the 1990s. Every school has an ’emergency structure’ to follow.

However, emergency drills used to focus more on fire drills and subsequently explosions in the science laboratories and the likes. The focus has now shifted to anti-terror drills in Singapore. 

Clearly there are no prizes for guessing why such measures are being put in place. Recently, the Government rallied industries, businesses and workplaces to prepare and brace for a terror attack, under the national movement for such efforts, SG secure.

A Ministry of Education (MOE) spokesperson said that in line with SG secure, schools “have enhanced their emergency drills to be better prepared to respond to a terrorist attack on school premises”.

Remember, not if but when.

At least three schools have conducted anti-terror drills in Singapore. Concord Primary School, West View Primary School and recently, Meridian Junior College on October 20. 

There are rough guidelines on the lockdown procedures but principals and teachers stated that schools have the autonomy to customise the exercises to what is appropriate and fitting for their schools. 

What happens in anti-terror drills in Singapore

School staff and students are briefed well ahead of the anti-terror drills in Singapore. Usually, students are kept in the dark about the exact day of the drill.

It usually begins with an announcement from the general office that relays a code that “an intruder” is in the compound. Everyone is to lock the classrooms, close all windows and switch off the lights and fans. Students are instructed to either silence or turn off their mobile phones. 

“My teacher said that the ringing of phones might give our location away” – Reagon Yeo, 12, West View Primary School.

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Students are told to keep extremely silent.

Students are also instructed to stay clear of windows and to hide by either crouching behind cupboards or pushing tables to the walls and doors so the children can take cover. When the premises are secured, there will be another coded announcement.

The anti-terror drills in Singapore typically take about an hour to complete. Teachers emphasise that students should take the drills seriously for the threat is real.

A teacher mentioned:

We link it back to reality, so that they do not see the drill in isolation. Then we touch on how they should behave in an emergency situation, like keeping quiet, taking care of their own safety and looking out for their friends.

Terrorism acts are taking place even in our neighbouring countries. We need to be prepared.

Times have changed 

While some parents may feel rather apprehensive about their children participating in anti-terror drills in Singapore, in fear of the anxiety it might cause, we cannot ignore the fact that it is relevant and necessary. Most parents are supportive and believe that it will help to raise awareness about the dangers of terrorism and how the children should react to such a situation. 

In the United States, lockdown drills are conducted regularly in schools after the infamous Columbine High shooting incident. 

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It may be scary for children but it is best that they are exposed to the threats that surround them.

A primary six student, Yeo Kai Sheng, from West View Primary School, wisely pointed out,

A terrorist attack is a scary thought but the situation could worsen if civilians do not know how to respond. 

Nationwide measures

Anti-terror drills in Singapore are taking place at a nationwide level. Apart from drills, efforts have been stepped up to protect iconic buildings. Security guards are undergoing counter-terrorism training as well. Security is also much tighter for big-scale events.

Terrorism is scary and something that we once thought would never reach our shores. But given the current state of affairs, it’s extremely important that we always remain prepared and vigilant! 

Source: Today Online