EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. - An active shooter training class is being held for local law enforcement at Columbia High School Wednesday.
The purpose of the training is to prepare in case a shooting occurs at a public place where a large number of people gather, in this case a school.
From 8 a.m. to noon police officers from East Greenbush, Nassau, North Greenbush, Schodack and Rensselaer will attend the class taught by members of the Emergency Response Team.
Officers from the five area departments, with air soft guns in hand, practiced tactics and training techniques as they made their way from classroom to classroom in Columbia High School searching for "active shooters."
Wednesday's drill had a significant meaning to two East Greenbush Police officers who were at Columbia High School in 2004 when a real shooting happened. One was an officer still at the time but the other was a student.
"It gave us some confidence but again not really knowing how many shooters there are, the 911 calls were coming in at a very alarming rate," said Sgt. Ernest Tubbs with the East Greenbush Police Department.
Sgt. Tubbs recalls responding to the 2004 shooting at Columbia high school. A graduate himself, finding his friend shot was more than a challenge while trying to find the shooter.
"The stairway is still the same and I still remember seeing him on the ground. I've known Mike since high school. I just told him I said help is on the way," said Tubbs.
Finding the shooter was the main goal as Tubbs directed other officers Wednesday during an active shooter training drill. Officer Peter Lavin also faced memories as he completed his 7th shooter drill, he was a senior at Columbia High School when the shooting happened.
"Went into lock down. Barricaded the doors in the rooms we were in. It was a pretty intense situation," said Officer Peter Lavin with East Greenbush Police.
Putting memories aside the drill was another moment to learn and prepare in case Lavin faces another shooting, not as a student but as an officer.
"Here is where you can make mistakes and you can correct your mistakes. In real life you can't. Stay calm. You have to stay calm," said Officer Lavin.
Sgt. Tubbs coaches officers from his own experience now.
"I immediately smelled the gun powder," said Tubbs.
On Wednesday it looked like they were catching on.
"There have been so many over the past few years and we want to be ready. We want to train for those incidents," said Tubbs.
Sgt. Tubbs says there have been no major changes to active shooter drills following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut but that doing them every year is crucial.