Already this year, we’ve reported on dozens of active shooter situations.
Monday at Penn High School, first responders were training in case the same tragedy were to ever hit home.
Police officers and firefighters from all over St. Joseph County joined that active shooter drill.
Because that’s what would happen if the situation was real.
This drill did feel real, real officers, real people, even real guns.
First responders say, the more real the training, the better the response when something awful happens.
“It seemed to go very well on the surface,” said Lieutenant Matt Blank, St. Joseph County Police Department.
When the shooter walked in to Penn High School’s gym, first responders leapt into action.
“Getting officers onto the scene and into the building as quickly as possible is the norm around the country these days. That’s exactly what we’re trained to do and what our officers are expected to do. Time is always of the essence,” said Blank.
Their first goal is to stop the shooter.
“Once we’re able to do that, then of course, our priority shifts to helping the wounded get the care that they need as well,” said Blank.
In past shooting situations, victims bled to death before EMTs could even get to them.
Responders at the drill, don’t want that to happen there.
That’s why responders in St. Joseph County are adding rescue task forces.
“Basically it is just a team of basic EMTs where they’re basically there to go in under police protection,” said Keith Witt, Penn Township firefighter.
Those EMTs wear body armor and work in what they call “warm zones.”
“That shooter is in a different part of the building or it has been secured, the scene has been secured by police already,” said Witt.
Being able to work alongside police instead of waiting for them to finish their work is a pretty big deal.
“That is the difference between life and death,” said Witt.
Even though Monday was just a drill, emotions still ran high.
There was still a sense of fear. That’s why training is so important.
“The more we can train, the better off we are. You know, I’d like to see this on a bi-monthly basis, basically. Whether it be a big drill like this where everybody is involved. But locally, we do this at least once a month,” said Witt.
Every time first responders train on this, they say they get a little better.
Every situation is different and there’s always something to learn from.