By Mai Martinez

(CBS) — Workplace shootings are a sad reality these days, and it’s important to be prepared.

CBS 2’s Mai Martinez takes us inside potentially life-saving training in the suburbs.

It’s only a drill, but emergency responders say the lessons learned Monday could save lives.

“By doing these drills, we identify those problems early on so it doesn’t happen in a real-life situation,” Hillside Police Chief Joseph Lukaszek says.

The scenario: an armed, disgruntled ex-employee returns to his former workplace and opens fire. Several people are hit.  Some killed.

The officers and paramedics say the hands-on training is invaluable.

“It was more realistic. Typically a situation like this, you don’t get to experience that until the day it happens which is — you’re too late,” police Sgt. Laith Ibrahim says.

It’s not just the emergency responders who benefit. Workers also learn what they should do if they come face-to-face with an armed suspect.

“Will it ever happen? I hope not. Can it? We don’t know, so we have to prepare,” Chief Lukaszek said.

Police and emergency responders from Hillside, Bellwood, Maywood, Broadview, Westchester, Berkeley and Cook County Homeland Security all participated in Monday’s drill.