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College's active-shooter training strikes stark tone as news of Texas shooting emerges

Posted at 4:08 PM, May 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-18 18:52:11-04

The active-shooter drill at Bellevue University was planned well in advance, but took on an unexpected importance when the Texas high school shooting happened at the same time.

The full-scale training session included 17 agencies: Sarpy County Sheriff's Office, Bellevue Police Department, Bellevue Fire, and the Red Cross, among others.

It was a chance for authorities to test their response skills in active-shooter scenarios. They also took paramedics inside the building to treat the injured before the building was completely cleared, plus working as one team to stop the loss of life.

Authorities say the challenge is getting everything under control quickly and efficiently.

"Just the incident itself can be overwhelming, it's chaotic, there are people everywhere, there are injuries everywhere, you still may have somebody involved who may still be actively trying to harm people," said Acting Chief Dave Stukenholtz with the Bellevue Police Deptartment.

After the training started, reality set in as reports of the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas started to spread. Bellevue University officials and employees said that's when their planned training became more than just a drill.

"I think for our staff who were learning about Texas situation right when the shots went off — your adrenaline just skyrocketed, and in a lot of ways, it didn't feel like practice anymore," said Mary Hawkins, President of Bellevue University. "It felt like, 'oh my goodness, this could happen.' And we experienced some of the confusion, the yelling, and the reality inside the buildings — at least that's what staff are saying."

All the agencies will get together to talk about what went well and what they can improve on.  They'll also be making a training video that will be distributed nationwide.