The world feels less safe when there is a report of another active shooter situation, and even less so when it results in causalities. Places that once felt safe, like school, church and the workplace, become battle grounds.
Many take action to combat potential harm, including first responding agencies in Gainesville and Hall County, who spent Friday morning working on an integrated training simulation that allowed them to respond together to a realistic scenario.
After a simulated call from dispatch, Hall County Sheriff's Office, Fire and EMA began to work alongside Gainesville Police and Fire at the Gainesville/Hall County Fire Services Training Center for the exercise.
"It used to be that Fire/EMS would sit back and wait, law enforcement would go in, neutralize the threat, do everything they needed to do and then we would come in," said Hall County Fire Division Chief Zach Brackett. "But the problem with that is while we're waiting and they're clearing, people are dying. So our goal is to move towards an integrated response that puts both law enforcement and Fire/EMS together."
The exercise allows the agencies to experience working together to clear the scene and take down any threats, while treating, performing triage and transporting multiple critical patients to the hospital for further care. The Northeast Georgia Medical Center and the Georgia Mountain Healthcare Coalition also took part in the exercise.
"We will be transporting simulated patients to the hospital," said Brackett, adding that the patients for the exercise were students from Cherokee Bluffs High School. They portrayed 20 patients, four that were dead on arrival and 16 in varying conditions. At the hospital, 10 patients continued simulated treatment, while the rest continued to play a part, this time as family members.
The simulation isn't just practice for a catastrophe. The agencies were closely watched, their performances under scrutiny.
"We might be separate agencies but we all work together. And if we were to have an instance like this, we'd all come together and play together, so we have to be able to train together, which is what this is. This is training. We have evaluators here looking at what we did well, some things that we can work on and make sure we have the communication aspect of it so we can really talk."
Brackett said the drill was a serious event and the results would help them identify future preparations.