The Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF) is a uniformed organisation under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs whose main role is mitigating hazardous materials incidents, as well as providing fire-fighting, rescue and emergency medical services.

The SCDF focuses on four pillars when it comes to its roles and functions.

It has installed an island-wide Public Warning System (PWS) that will be used to warn the public of military threats such as an air raid. This system can also be used to alert the population of any serious industrial mishaps or natural disasters in localised areas. A comprehensive sheltering system has been developed to complement the PWS in addition, to metro rail transit stations that have been hardened to serve as civil defense shelters. SCDF is responsible for the sheltering system and has raised national service units who will jointly manage the shelters with Civil Defense volunteers during emergency.

SCDFDuring peacetime, the Force is capable of handling more than one rescue operation and multiple fires and this capability will be upgraded to meet the wartime demands through the deployment of Civil Defense National Servicemen organized and trained to undertake specialized operations. The SCDF has an integrated computerized system that ensures the effective control of scarce resources and the deployment of forces to the most needed part of the island during emergency.

The SCDF is exploring the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to enhance sense-making during firefighting, rescue and HazMat incidents This capability will allow SCDF to do an aerial mapping of the incident sites and have a better appreciation of the risks so as to better plan the safe and effective deployment of officers during operations. Over the years, the SCDF has evolved to become a comprehensive fire and rescue organisation with capabilities spanning across areas such as HazMat, marine fire fighting and urban search and rescue.

However, the SCDF is highly aware of its environment and is fully aware of its changing nature. Therefore it continues to develop itself to meet future requirements and its co-operation with the Singapore Armed Forces to be able to contribute to improvement of first response capabilities in the region and worldwide.

Singapore’s national defense research and development organisation, DSO National Laboratories creates the critical edge in defense technology to force multiply the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) combat capabilities and render potential threats irrelevant.

The Defense Medical & Environmental Research Institute (DMERI) builds up technological capabilities for the protection against chemical and biological warfare agents and also conducts research and development into combat care, human effectiveness, bio-technology and bio-engineering to enhance the safety, survivability and performance of our national forces in hostile battlefield environments.

With the increased threat of chemical weapons used in modern conflicts, DSO has expanded its R&D work to include a range of chemical-biological defense capabilities. One such solution that DSO has developed against chemical agents is the Scentmate, a novel, fast, effective and portal screening kit for individuals suspected of exposure to nerve agents. The technology can assist in rapid on-site screening during a chemical attack.

The technology has since progressed to a diagnostic test kit that is deployable at the public healthcare level to medical clinics and even on-site.

DSO has also developed decontamination technologies including the Demul-X – a universal, non-aggressive decontaminant that is effective against a wide range of chemical and biological agents.

The Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) laboratory at DSO is the national single portal of entry for samples contaminated with unknown chemical and biological substances. In the event of a threat involving unknown chemical and biological substances, DSO’s BSL3 laboratory is the national response laboratory tasked to process, identify and verify the substance used. The single portal of entry was operationalized when DSO was engaged after the September 11 attacks to screen for anthrax.

During the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, DSO was a member of a clinical consortium of Singapore laboratories that helped in the fight against the disease. The same BSL3 facility undertook the validation of diagnostic kits for the SARs virus and the diagnosis of blood samples.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), and is one of the most prominent department of the armed forces. In addition to delivering defense capabilities, engineers also contribute behind the scenes in support of other national projects. Again an example would be the SARS crisis many years ago when its defense engineers launched the world’s first precision temperature scanning system, effectively preventing the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, another group of defense researchers are guarding against other forms of biological and chemical warfare.

Meanwhile a subsidiary of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Unmanned Systems Research Group, AeroLion Technologies specializes in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) autonomy and navigation in both indoor and outdoor operation. Its BlackLion 168 is an intelligent long-endurance quadrotor mini-UAV equipped with a high resolution gimbal-controlled camera. With an endurance of 60 minutes it can be equipped with a hazardous radiation detection sensor in urban areas and confined spaces.

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A defence photo-journalist for more than 30 years, and member of the Independent Defence Media Association (IDMA) and the European Security and Defence Press Association (ESDPA). David is the author of 18 defence-related books, and is former IHS Jane’s consultant editor and a regular correspondent for defence publications in the UK, USA, France, Poland, Brazil and Thailand.