Fort Jackson conducts mass casualty exercise

In the drill, two gunmen walk into a building, opening fire on soldiers and employees.

FORT JACKSON, SC (WACH / AP) - Fort Jackson preparing for the worst Tuesday by simulating a shooting on base to help educate emergency responders on how to end a potentially deadly situation.

The mass casualty response exercise required emergency vehicles and security officials to move in and out of the military installation.

In the drill, two gunmen walk into a building, opening fire on soldiers and employees.

In a situation like this, officials say it is not uncommon for the shooter to play the role as a victim to gain access into locked rooms.

Organizers of Tuesday's shooting scenario say this is as real as it gets, and better preparation saves lives.

"The key to responding to these kind of incidents is to make sure you know how to do them in the event they happen," said Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts.

The exercise is meant to prepare emergency responders, those who manage an emergency operation center and also deal with family assistance issues.

"You can study things on a piece of paper. You can write all the plans you want - until you come out and exercise them, they're just something on a piece of paper," said U.S. Marshal Chuck Banghart.

Executing the scenario involves first responders from multiple agencies across the Midlands working together to be better prepared.

"It's always great to have a plan, but if you don't execute your plan and let folks know your plan works, you're behind the power curve," said Anti-Terrorism Officer Mark Mallach.

The simulation was a real world scenario with the tactical team taking down the gunmen. A sweep of the building for explosives was followed by a medical response team helping victims. The investigation concluded with the team sealing off the building.

Army Spokesman pat Jones says simulated casualties were taken by emergency vehicles to several area hospitals as part of the exercise.

"Everybody needs to know what to do in time of crisis, regardless," said Mallach. "It should be seamless between all forces."

Fort Jackson leaders and first responders plan to review Tuesday's training and make any adjustments that may be necessary, so if this scenario ever becomes a reality they're ready to save lives.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)