ARVADA - First responders in Colorado have long known - it's not a matter of if, but when the next big mass-casualty attack will happen.
"The ability to say 'it's not going to happen here' is long gone from the vocabulary of most responders in Colorado," Dave Mitchell, EMS Chief for the Arvada Fire Protection District, said.
Columbine High School in 1999, Youth With A Mission in Arvada in 2007 and the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012 have taught responders that.
Because of Colorado's history, Arvada Police, paramedics and firefighters are looking to the future, changing the way they will respond to these incidents - a 180-degree adjustment about how the two work together.
"Today, we're at the second-day, active-shooter initiative between Arvada Police Department and Arvada Fire Department," Mitchell said. "It's a joint operation to try to better prepare our responders to respond in our community."
Consider it the beginning of a different era - a change to how things have been done.
"Prior to this training, our policy has been to stand away from the scene, around the corner, out of sight until the police department has given us the all clear that it's safe to enter that scene," Mitchell said.
But every day they're on the job, time is everything - especially on those days when too many are injured.
"The ability to get to these people, out of that scene and to a trauma surgeon in a short amount of time allows for a better survivability from this type of an incident," Mitchell said.
"I use the analogy of their chief and our chief got together and they finally said the two kids to play," Sgt. Michael Touchton, with the Arvada Police who led the exercise, said. "We can give them security with our limited numbers. They can bring in their large numbers to actually save people. I've been doing this for 15 years, and I don't get excited about much, but I've been really excited about this relationship."
That relationship is expected to get better and stronger as the men and women with similar skills and the same goals learn how to arrive successfully at the same result: saving lives.
9NEWS called several major police departments in the area to see if they have similar training programs.
Denver said while police and fire train together a lot, they have not practiced the active-shooter scenario.
The Aurora Fire Department told 9NEWS, fire and police have been training to respond to an active-shooter scenario since 2010.
"As with all situations, it has to be a very dynamic training," the fire department spokesperson said.
The two agencies are working closely to establish policy for response which could be used for victims of a multiple shooting, as well as a home terror plot.
Colorado Springs has a special paramedic unit that works with their SWAT team. Spokesperson for the Colorado Springs Fire said the department had "one of the top TEMS units in the country."
"Our Tactical Emergency Medical Support Unit is deployed with our police department's SWAT team as requested. This team trains regularly with our CSPD. They do get all suited up in the SWAT gear [without the weapons]," Sunny Smaldino with the Colorado Springs Fire Department said.
The department trains regularly for "mass-casualty" incidents, including active-shooter situations.
The standard procedure for the Colorado Springs Fire Department is to help the police after the officers have cleared the scene. The TEMS unit will go in first while other firefighters follow after the scene is safe.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)