• Law enforcement, firefighters conduct school safety exercise


    ORLANDO, Fla. - Dozens of police officers, firefighters, FBI agents and deputies were training in downtown Orlando at the St. James Catholic School on Ridgewood Street Friday.

    Law enforcement and firefighters were training in a special school safety exercise.

    SWAT teams were training to search multiple buildings at the school for would-be shooters.

    During a scenario, students were in the gymnasium when someone acting as a gunman rushed in and fired blanks.

    It was the first time police used a school to test their response, to see first-hand whether officers were prepared for a Newtown-style massacre.

    Police said in an active shooting scenario, the victims will likely be alone with the shooter for eight minutes.

    Experts said it is important to think about what the victims would do.

    "People who don't plan what they are going to do are more likely to die that those who have thought about it happening," said Danny Banks of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    Experts also said if a victim is faced with a shooter, either hide or turn their fear of the shooter into anger.

    "What they need to do is listen to their heart and do what they feel comfortable, whether it is going into a closet or hiding under a desk," said Banks.

    If a victim fights back, it can throw the shooter off and save lives.

    As the scenario played out, the gunman shot the first police officer who responded alone.

    "Years ago we used to wait for three or four (officers) to get to the scene, but when they hear active gunfire, every second counts," said Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney. "That first responding officer, if he hears gunfire, he is trained to go towards that gunfire."

    The Orlando Police Department said the training exercise was the largest active shooter drill they've conducted.

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