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Former SWAT team member reacts to Orlando shooting

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SALEM (WSLS 10) - Virginia State Police Sergeant Rick Garletts used to be on the SWAT team and responded to the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007.

He says making the call to storm a building during a hostage situation is probably one of the hardest decisions any officer ever has to make.

Garletts says hearing about the shooting in Orlando, Florida Sunday brought him back to the violence that took place in Blacksburg nine years ago.

"The thing is, is, it's a nightmare to ever have to be involved in something like that. The folks that are there, they're going to visit the rest of their lives," said Garletts.

In Orlando, 29-year old Omar Mateen entered the Pulse night club, and for three hours, police waited to storm the building.

Garletts says, while he comment specifically on that move, it was likely a tactical decision.

"You want to give every availability to the person to surrender if we can, because it's dangerous if we have to go in, because we can get hurt, they can get hurt," said Garletts.

Once that decision is made, Garletts says every officer works as quickly as possible to subdue the gunman.

"Our officers are trained to work to engage that person, because if we do that, that takes the focus off of the people that that person is trying to harm," said Garletts.

Ultimately, Garletts says in situations like these, police can never arrive fast enough to save everyone, but there are things the public can do to protect themselves.

"If you think about somebody coming into your building with you, and you plan for it, even though it may not happen, as long as you have a plan, you have the ability to survive," said Garletts.

Garletts says his office offers training classes for civilians to help people develop those plans if they ever find themselves in an active shooter situation, and to develop situational awareness.