A school shooting is not an incident for which anyone wants to prepare.
But in this age, it's necessary, according to local law enforcement agencies.
On Monday, the Bayfield Marshal's Office and other police and first responders practiced for the unthinkable: a shooting at Bayfield High School.
School district staff played different roles for the simulation, which began at 9 a.m. when a call about a shooter at the school went out on emergency radio channels.
In the exercise, which lasted the rest of the morning, six students were "shot," then the Bayfield Marshal's Office "shot and killed" the perpetrator, who was portrayed by a local father. After all of the victims were taken out of the school, police practiced searching the entire building.
While it was a drill, it was difficult for some observers to watch, particularly after word came through that there had been an actual shooting at a school that morning in San Bernardino, California.
"I think it went pretty well," Bayfield Marshal Joe McIntyre said of the exercise. "I sure hope we never have one."
But because a shooting can happen anywhere, agencies must practice for them. School was not in session that day.
The victims were transported to Mercy Regional Medical Center. One "student," actually the Marshal's Office training dummy, was killed in the event.
Even after the shooter was neutralized, searching for other perpetrators in the school wasn't an easy task. Authorities went room to room, holding pretend guns and using them as they would a real firearm. The students in the classrooms, portrayed by teachers, were ordered to stand with their hands on their heads, because in a real incident, police would not be able to tell who is a student and who could be another shooter or accomplice, explained Lt. Dan Bender of the La Plata County Sheriff's Office.
The officers did a modified pat-down of all the "students" in the classroom to check for weapons, then led them out of the room, as they kept their hands on their heads. They were transported on a bus to Bayfield Church of Christ, which served as the reunification center for parents to pick up their children.
"It was a great drill," said Bayfield School Superintendent Troy Zabel. "We identified the areas that we struggled with, but that's why we do the drill."
Amy Lyons, the school district's budget director and the mother of students at Bayfield schools, said she woke up that morning nervous about the exercise. But she felt better after seeing how quickly the police responded and how the school staff handled the situation.
The district needs to work out kinks in the reunification process, Zabel said.
The practice also was an opportunity for other agencies to practice their emergency protocols. Susanne Meyers, operations supervisor for the Durango-La Plata County Communications Center, used her agency's mobile command center for the first time.
"It was a great training exercise for us," she said, noting that she was pleased the entire operation went smoothly.
Capt. Dan Miller of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District seconded the assessment of the other first responders: it went well, and the exercise helps the agencies identify where they need more training.
The six victims were "received" in Mercy's emergency room, said David Bruzzesse, the hospital spokesman.
"We participated in the drill and tested our systems and response," he wrote in an email. "Conducting and participating in drills like this help us to be prepared in the event of a real scenario. Joint exercise and collaboration with our colleagues in law enforcement and emergency medical services is very helpful."
After lunch, the participants held a debriefing to discuss what went well and what needs work.
The last training was held in the Durango School District a few years ago, and Capt. Kirk Phillips of the Ignacio Police Department said he hopes to host the next drill at an Igancio campus. The simulations go better each time as more staff in all schools and agencies get trained in the procedures, he noted.