MANSFIELD, LA (KSLA) - Time is of the essence in an emergency.
First responders are expected to act at a moment's notice.
On Thursday morning, firefighters from throughout Northwest Louisiana converged on Mansfield to be challenged by training for a worst-case scenario.
"This is very realistic. We work large-vehicle wrecks on a regular basis," said Rusty Canton, chief of DeSoto Parish Fire District 1.
"In this situation, the bus driver had a medical emergency, ran a red light and was struck by an 18-wheeler."
Fire crews were tasked with working as a collective unit to rescue three dummy victims trapped inside the wreckage.
"We have a lot of 18-wheelers, log trucks, saltwater trucks and things like that," said Canton.
And with students back in class throughout the region, more school buses are on the roads yet again.
"We want to make sure we're prepared for any incident that may involve anything," Canton said. "And this will put us to the test."
To further challenge the firefighters, crews had to rescue the patients in a timely manner.
They also were only allowed to use the limited resources and equipment at hand.
"Manpower is a big issue for us. So a lot of time, we have to run what we call mutual aid with neighboring departments," DeSoto fireman Mark Magee explained.
"We want to make sure we're on the same page so we can get the patients out as quickly and as effectively as possible."
Such training scenario also often can pull at first responders' emotions.
"This is probably a worst-case scenario. It's something we don't like to think about," Magee said.
"Anytime you put in school buses you start thinking about children. It makes your emotions run high in these situations."
Canton said the DeSoto fire district runs a couple heavy rescue training operations throughout the year.