How Nashville prepared for the day it never wanted to see

Coordination between law enforcement and disaster response in Nashville has also been strengthened in recent years, partly due to a series of natural disasters and attacks, including by a gunman in a Waffle House in 2018 and beyond a bomber that detonated a camper full of explosives on Christmas Day 2020.

And with the threat of mass shooting ever present, the city has repeatedly held training for regular officers and senior staff, including briefings from other officers and emergency departments who have experienced the horror of a school shooting.

Chief William Swann of the Nashville Fire Department estimated that of approximately 17 joint active training sessions conducted in 2022, 11 took place in a high school building, where his department worked with police officers and other officials on how to respond to emergencies. The most recent joint exercise took place a week before the Covenant School shooting, he said.

With a fire station close to the school, medics and paramedics stood close behind police officers as part of a rescue team during Monday’s shooting, he said, as they searched hallways and classrooms for victims and took them to ambulances and hospitals for treatment .

“If you’re not trained enough, your emotions will come into play, and if you let your emotions play a role, you’re going to get into trouble,” said Chief Swann. That could be a particular concern in a school shooting, he added. The chief held back tears as he described the innocence of the class and “the good medicine” of a child’s hugs and kisses.

The emergency response extended to bureaucratic assistance, with officials from the mayor’s office and other agencies helping to coordinate communications, the unusually rapid release of images of the school and the reunion, as panicked parents rushed to a nearby church to children after the disaster. to shoot.

“My first wish was, ‘Oh my God, I hope none of this is true, I hope all of this turns out to be inaccurate,'” said Kristin Wilson, chief of operations and execution in Mayor John Cooper’s office. “And then the second was, ‘Let’s go – we know what to do here.'”