First responders train for "new normal" in active shooter situations

The police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge are forcing first responders in North Texas to modify their plan of action when it comes to an active shooter.

Assault rifles are now a major cause for concern. A police trainer said officers are now engaged at a much greater distance then they used to be. The bullets can travel faster and penetrate bullet proof vests.

The new concerns are the reason first responders took part in a new training exercise at a school Monday afternoon. It was only a drill, but for Lewisville police officers and fire fighters, it could be a lifesaver.

Officer Rob Feagins is a certified instructor and teaches fellow officers how to navigate the "new normal" in police work.

“The police are trained to flood the school,” Feagins explained. “We want to get as many officers in as possible and stop the killing.”

In the drill, there were two active shooters in the school using high-powered weapons. They were the same type of assault-style rifles used by the shooters in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

"They're high powered. They'll penetrate the bulletproof vest,” the instructor said. “They tend to be a higher magazine capacity.”

All of those factors have forced police officers to tweak their training. In both of the recent police ambush attacks, the gunmen were military-trained.

Firefighters and paramedics were also fine-tuning their response plan, knowing they can be targets, too.

Division Chief Mark Richards said communication can be challenging. During the drill, they learned being inside of a building with cement walls and a metal roof hindered their radio frequency.

“There's a lot of challenges and threats in the area that you must maintain situational awareness,” he said.

And for police, part of the problem is figuring out where the bullets are coming from. Officers during the shooting in downtown Dallas had a difficult time initially determining where the shooter was located.

“The biggest thing I keep telling my guys be prepared for every situation,” Feagins said. “Stay aware of your surroundings, and be ready for anything.”