ELDRIDGE, Iowa -- First responders from across the Quad Cities have been taking on some high-stress training scenarios to simulate an active shooter situation. Firefighters and EMS joined area police departments at North Scott High School for exercises that push their capabilities.
"We're trying to overload them mentally," said Edwin Lard, Rescue Task Force director and one of five instructors visiting from across the country. "So, loud music, strobe lights, smoke, with the added stress that they know they're going to have to perform."
Eldridge Police Officer Robert Haxton shouted, "Police!," as he entered a darkly-lit room at the high school in a situation simulating the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016. After clearing the room, he strapped a tourniquet onto the leg of another police officer posing as a shooting victim.
"Nothing's just another day at this job," said Haxton. "Each scenario, each situation is going to be unique unto itself," he said.
It's part of a new way of thinking about how to respond to an active shooter at a school or anywhere else. First responders are being encouraged to make contact -- not to wait for a SWAT team to arrive.
"We empower them and ensure that they have the confidence to go in and make contact," said Lard. "Make contact with that shooter because the moment you make contact with that shooter that’s not meeting any resistance, he immediately has resistance," he said.
Parents have asked -- could more children have been saved in the Parkland shooting last year if the school resource officer on duty had gone in? Seventeen people were killed in that shooting alone and hundreds of others have died in school shootings around the country since the Columbine shooting in 1999.
"We're training to go do something to make sure that our community, our kids, our civilians are safer than they were ten years ago," said Bettendorf Fireman Thom Scheetz.