Active Shooter Exercise Trains Potential Victims And First Responders

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CARSON CITY, NV - At times it looked real, even frightening, given recent events elsewhere. It was, however, only a training exercise Wednesday morning at the Nevada National Guard Headquarters in Carson City.

The scenario: A pair of disgruntled employees have come to the headquarters building armed, with murderous intent. There are shots. Victims. The Carson City Sheriff's Office responds with fire department and medics close behind. Time is of the essence.

"We learned a lot at Columbine," says Sgt. Dan Gomes, referring to the mass shooting at the Colorado High School in 1999.

"Law enforcement and firemen and medics aren't going to stand out on the sidelines and wait 53 minutes before going into the building any more. We're going to get in an eliminate the threat under the national average of about 10 minutes."

So, the threat has to be neutralized, aid gotten to the victims and a large, complicated structure searched for remaining threats.

The officers, the firemen and medics are sharpening their skills and teamwork, but the employees are also learning. It's made realistic for a reason.

"There's fear on both sides," says National Guard Provost Marshal Capt. Robert Kolvet, referring to both victim and responder.

"Everybody has their fears. So, the reason we do this training is everyone resorts to their lowest level of training. So, if we provide training to the occupants that's how they're going to react."

This exercise was not a response to Saturday's shootings in Chattanooga.

It had been in the planning for months. But this Sheriff's Office has dealt with a mass shooting before at the local IHOP restaurant in 2011, and it has held these kinds of exercises at other locations since.

Coincidentally, it's not the first time a real-life incident elsewhere has brought a sharper focus to training like this. Each incident has only underlined the need for training.

"In a real-life situation we're not going to know what we're responding to until we get there," says Sgt. Gomes. "So these training events are the knowledge that we can never attain other than doing exercises like this."