STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (WJBK) - The school year is quickly approaching, and first responders in Sterling Heights are training for a scenario they hope to never encounter. An active shooter.
"The theory that we used: stop the killing; stop the dying; then extract victims," says Sterling Heights Police training officer Andrew Pawlik. He organizes the training, which is based on what they've learned from other mass shootings and classes on tactics to respond to these situations.
FOX 2's Jessica Dupnak went along and shows us in the video player above the intense training they undergo. It's as authentic as these officers will get.
"Ever since Columbine, our attitude has changed. We can't wait for SWAT or a [Special Reaction Team] team to arrive," Pawlik says.
In this scenario, Officer Jason Criner was first on scene. He headed right towards the gunfire.
"I come in with my body armor on, my skillset, my weapons -- now I'm making this fight a little bit even," Pawlik says.
In the middle of training, though, the team encountered an interruption. A real 911 call came in.
"This call was someone suicidal with a knife and a bat in the middle of a field next to the high school," says Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski.
It's wasn't a drill, and everyone rusheed out the door down the street to Sterling Heights High. The man wasn't cooperating with police, and they eventually used essentially a rubber round of ammunition and a taser to subdue him.
"This is the live of a police officer; that happened live in the middle of the training," Chief Dwojakowski says.
Now, back to the action, where another scenario is playing out. This one involves Jessica.
She's sitting in a classroom, wearing eye protection because the officers are using simulated rounds. She's pretending to be an injured student who was shot in the leg by the school shooter. They applied a tourniquet to my leg wound - and started asking questions about the shooter's description. .
What makes this training unique is Sterling Heights Fire has a specifically trained rescue task force.
"They come to what we call a casualty collection point, wherever that's been established, and hopefully that's where all the victims are going to be," Pawlik explains. The Rescue Task Force even loaded Jessica up in the ambulance to make it as real as possible.
"We kind of want them to kind of technically fail at training so they can see what they did wrong and they learn from it and continue on from there," Pawlik says.
The tactical training is one part, but Pawlik says learning how to be calm is a major part of the training.
"There was no real threat of death and you could see in these guys, they get hyped up," Pawlik says.
He says every couple years when they do these mock shooting exercises his officers walk away with more confidence is tragedy strikes.