MARIN CO., (KTVU) - In the North Bay, Central Marin Police Authority are teaming with fire paramedics to conduct drills for a mass shooting. The location: Redwood High School.
Participants included; Corte Madera and Larkspur Fire Departments, with Ross Valley and Kentfield Fire personnel observing.
"We're not used to going in with the police with weapons drawn," Larkspur Fire Battalion Chief Don Stasiowski told KTVU, "but it's a reality we have to deal with now so this training helps us for the future if it ever did happen.
The school halls, empty for summer, fill with smoke and jarring screams and the sound of alarms, during the staged scenarios.
"Multiple shots fired, second story, multiple shots fired,” blared a police radio on Thursday, "students have been shot, unknown number of victims."
An initial attack team of police officers enters first to find the shooter, or shooters, since each scenario is different.
But right behind the first cops comes a second team, a rescue task force, with firefighter paramedics accompanying even as the situation unfolds.
They urgently assessed victims, played by volunteers.
"Can you talk to me, can you talk to me at all?" asked one paramedic of a young woman on the floor.
Bringing the medics in provides a swifter response to a mass casualty.
In contrast to years past, police don't wait for SWAT or back-up to arrive anymore either.
"We realized, that takes too long, it should be one officer, or a few if that's possible," explained Central Marin Authority Police Captain Mike Norton.
"And then we've realized, we need to get the paramedics and firefighters in here quick also, so how best to do that."
As of Jan. 1, 2016, California law requires police agencies, as part of their active shooter protocol, to incorporate medical rescue in that response.
"We want to stop people from bleeding out and we can go into the warm zone with our police protectors and hopefully be able to get people out quicker and save more lives," elaborated Battalion Chief Stasiowski.
For fire paramedics, it's a different type of danger, and different type of adrenaline, but practicing with their police partners gets everyone comfortable with the tactics and the language.
"This is a little bit different, new, a new scope for us, but we're embracing it 100 percent," Larkspur Fire Captain Steve Walton told KTVU.
Walton attended Redwood High School years ago, and admits he never envisioned having to rehearse such a horrible event.
"We hope it never happens," he added," but we're coming up with common terms so we can move together and complement one another."