SOUTH JORDAN — Emergency crews from the Salt Lake City area responded to a Megaplex theater Tuesday to get a better feel for how to effectively respond to a mass shooting.
"They know it's not real, but if they can have some takeaways and come back and go, ‘Oh, I remember how we should do that' — that's our real goal," said Wayne Edginton, battalion chief at the South Jordan Fire Department.
Tuesday's simulation featured numerous live would-be victims. First responders said they treated at least 50 at the scene.
While fire officials said many facets of the coordinated — yet, extremely complicated — effort went well, they said communication still needed to get better to combat the mass confusion.
The urgency for this kind of drill has been heightened by the more recent events of a plot that was uncovered that included a mass shooting at a downtown Salt Lake City theater and Monday's school shooting in Sparks, Nev.
"It's something that's happened a little bit more frequently than whatever we'd want to see," South Jordan Fire Capt. Troy Darger said. "We're just trying to make sure we're prepared and good to go."
Even the would-be victims saw the significance of the exercise.
"It's just scary; and you get scared and you don't know what to do in that situation," said Alex Sorensen, an 18-year-old volunteer "victim" in Tuesday's drill.
Crews planned to conduct a similar exercise Wednesday, adding the additional element of air support. Helicopters were expected to transport would-be victims to local hospitals, Edginton said.