Hundreds of lifesavers train for every student’s worst nightmare — a gunman loose at their school

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parella 2BUCKLEY — It’s every student’s worst nightmare — an armed madman on the loose at their school.

It’s a terrifying situation emergency personnel trained for recently at a local high school, as hundreds gathered to carry out this large scale training exercise.

A police scanner alerts law enforcement of a shooter targeting students at a school. “From what we know the shooter is wearing a blue shirt, unknown pants fired 3 shots in the front office of the school’s campus.”

At White River High School in Buckley, Pierce County Emergency Management organized a drill for more than 200 first responders. “To do it right, it takes about a year to 18 months planning for an exercise,” said Sheri Badger with Pierce County Emergency Management

Firefighters, EMT’s, law enforcement officers, and students like Andrea Entz all worked together to save lives. “One of my best friends is terrified. This is her biggest fear that there’s going to be a school shooting.”

Fighting fear with knowledge, the students like Andrea, learn to ‘run, hide and fight.’ “I know it happens all the time in different places, so if it happens there who knows if it`s going to happen here.”

The agencies participating today are some of the first in the nation to implement this kind of training. It`s called a ‘Warm Zone’, and it`s where firefighters and law enforcement work together on the scene in a very different way.

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“When law enforcement responds to an active shooter type situation, in the past, the fire department wouldn`t come in until the whole school was cleared,” said Pierce County Sgt. John Delgado. “But now, we`re creating this ‘Warm Zone’ area where an area has been checked by law enforcement, and then we`re providing them a security team to come in and start treating casualties.”

Andrea said it`s a big change in response that didn`t go unnoticed. “I saw a lot of different communication that they had to do. It wasn`t just police do this and fire department do that. I had a policeman with me and then all of the sudden I had a fire department guy.”

The new policy is a lesson learned from previous school shootings. Students died while waiting for medical help on scene, but the men and women, like Sgt. Delgado, are hoping to change that if the unthinkable happens on their watch. It`s training that we hope we never have to use, but we`re glad we have it.”