SANTA FE, Texas (KTRK) -- Students and teachers inside Santa Fe High School lived something no one should.
"It's something you think that is always going to be somewhere else," said Santa Fe Fire Chief, Carl T. Anderson.
But this time it was right at home, and right up the road, an active shooter at Santa Fe High School.
"I was just having a hard time accepting that it was happening in our small community. They set off our pagers and I responded to the high school," said the chief.
Police say Dimitrios Pagourtzis had just opened fire inside an art class.
Station 1 responded.
"There was a lot going on," said EMS Captain David Brown.
When they arrived, students were racing out of the school and running for their lives.
Captain Brown encountered the first group of injured students in the back parking lot.
"We had seven students there that had been shot and we started triage," said Brown.
"We went to the back of the school, we started treating patients as they were running out," added Lt. Jonathan Burns.
"We sent medics in and met them at the office where the police officer had been wounded and got him treated," added Chief Anderson.
Minutes later, the gunfire had ended and the suspect was detained, but a horrible scene was left behind.
Eight students and two teachers were killed.
For these firefighters it was personal.
"I know it sounds cliche but everybody knows everybody," says Asst. Chief Jim Cargile
They treated kids they actually knew. Friends, neighbors, even church members.
The chief's granddaughter was a senior at the school.
"She was scheduled to be in that class that morning, working on an art project for another class, and luckily she overslept," he explained.
Now all across town, you see signs of support. Green and yellow ribbons placed throughout the city.
Hopes for healing and grim reminders of that horrible day remain here in Santa Fe.
May 18 is a day these first responders say changed their small town forever.
"The hardest part for me was knowing that innocent lives were taken that day," said Cargile.
"I think it's brought us closer together, it's obviously put a very hard pain in our hearts, but I think in the long run it'll make us do better things and will do what's necessary to protect our children," added Chief Anderson.
Emergency crews who ran toward danger during shooting share stories of bravery
SANTA FE HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING