As we're reminded far too often in today's world, mass shootings and other critical incidents can happen anywhere at any time.
It's why emergency officials say training and preparing for those incidents is crucial. And in keeping with that mantra, Monday, first responders in Fort Worth took part in the largest simulation drill they've ever done.
"Seeing that visual really makes a difference in their training," said Sgt. Eddie Trinidad, who oversees the Fort Worth Police Department's reality-based training unit. "Moving through a real school, seeing victims laying on the ground -- how do we get past that initial shock? How do we push past that shock to do what we have to do to save lives?"
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Fort Worth police and fire, MedStar ambulance service, Fort Worth and Weatherford ISDs, and several Fort Worth-based hospitals participated in the drill, which took place at Trimble Tech High School.
The scenario they were presented with -- a man carrying a rifle ran inside the school and began shooting.
More than 100 volunteers played the roles of students, teachers, and other employees who were inside the school at the time. Several of them were made up to look as though they'd been shot or injured, and were placed all around the building.
Shortly after the mock shooter ran into the school, emergency responders were dispatched to the scene, racing in as though it were the real thing.
While the first officers on scene went to look for the shooter and stop the threat, others were tasked with getting survivors safely out of the building.
Trinidad said another big focus of the drill was to get firefighers and EMTs inside the school quickly to help the victims.
He noted that in the past, they would typically have waited for officers to clear an area before rushing in. But now, in an effort to save precious time, EMTs are equipped with bulletproof vests and escorted into active scene by officers acting as bodyguards .
"The officers recognize how our partnership with the fire department will help us save lives," said Trinidad.
The entire drill was recorded, so the various agencies can go back and review what worked and what didn't.
They believe Monday's training will make a difference should the real thing ever happen.
"The saying goes the body won't go where the mind has not been," said Sgt. Chris Daniels, a spokesperson for the Fort Worth Police Department. "It's important for us to practice that. When we do encounter a situation like that, it's not that overwhelming. We can respond appropriately, we can focus on what we've trained to do, what we need to do, and accomplish our objective."