Several agencies train for tragedy

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A multi-county mass casualty drill took place Tuesday night at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School. With 150 people participating as victims, the training is to help agencies implement lessons learned from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. that took the lives of several children and their teachers last December.

“Unfortunately, we live in the type of world where schools are a vulnerable location and Sandy Hook was one of those incidents that taught us that,” said Nicole Martin, spokeswoman for the drills.

Emergency responders were called to the school for a shooting scenario in which a gunman had opened fire inside several classrooms before taking his own life. Multiple police and fire agencies entered the school without any idea of what to expect.

“It seemed appropriate to use the school,” Martin said. “Learn from the lessons that were brought up at Sandy Hook and try to replicate that, so that heaven forbid it happens here, our first responders know how to quickly respond.”

According to Martin, the training session is part of the largest mass casualty drill ever done in the state, involving the cooperation of 900 first responders, several police and fire departments and all hospital systems. The drills were funded through FEMA dollars and hundreds of volunteers who donated their time to help.

"Any first responder will tell you it's not if, it's when that one of these incidents will take place in Utah,” Martin said. “Tonight is about preparing our first responders for the inevitable.”