Posted at: 02/13/2013 9:45 PM
Updated at: 02/13/2013 10:19 PM
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to act quickly on gun control measures, saying government leaders need to do anything in their power to prevent another mass shooting like the one that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut late last year.
And on Wednesday Austin and Mower County officials took their own steps to prepare for just such a situation.
Throughout Wednesday night, law enforcement officials and emergency personnel flooded Austin High School for a large-scale training exercise intended to simulate a mass public shooting.
"Shots fired, we have shots fired” could be heard on police scanners throughout Mower County, and it was a call Austin police officers hope never to hear in a real emergency.
The drill required law enforcement officers and other emergency personnel to respond to a chaotic and changing environment that was meant to be as realistic as possible.
Around 40 students and other volunteers donned makeup to simulate wounds and could be heard screaming as they acted out a real-life tragedy.
“The environment is going to be chaotic and that is part of the hurdle that these officers have to learn to work in and mentally prepare themselves for,” said Det. Todd Clennon of the Austin Police Department.
While officials acknowledged that every emergency presents a unique set of challenges, they said just getting into that mindset provides invaluable training for first responders.
“These are extraordinary events and to be mentally prepared for the environment is as big a challenge as being physically prepared to take the necessary actions,” Clennon said.
Officials said they carry out similar training exercises every few years, but rarely on such a large scale.
They said they felt it necessary to include all emergency personnel to make sure everyone is prepared should something happen.