There was the school custodian, bleary-eyed and shaking off expressions of thanks and praise, who, as shots were ringing out, reportedly ran through the school halls making sure classroom doors were locked from the inside.
And the school nurse who fought the urge to run toward the commotion to help, instead following the protocol and training she received never thinking she would have to use it. That adherence to her training likely saved her life.
Moments after taking cover under her desk per her training, she said saw the boots of the gunman as he entered her office. The individual stood there for a few moments and then moved on down the hallway firing more shots.
There were the library staffers who heard commotion on the school's public address system and learned there was a gunman in the building. After rushing a number of students into a storage closet and barricading it with file cabinets, they initially would not even open the door for police who were standing outside until they were called by emergency operators and convinced it was safe to exit with the children.
And two cafeteria workers who heard shots and dropped to the ground, crawling into a utility closet and locking themselves in until help arrived.
But none were more tragic than the accounts of Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was emerging from a meeting and apparently saw the gunman and warned several colleagues who were about to step into the hallway behind her, and into the shooter's direct line of fire. The last thing one witness recalled was her turning back and yelling a warning to lock the door as she apparently confronted the gunman. A few moments later she was shot.
At one point an unidentified woman wearing a Connecticut State Police jacket addressed the group of teachers and staff who were consoling each other in the empty Sandy Hook apparatus bays. She complimented them on their individual and “exemplary” efforts following the procedures they were taught to ensure the protection of as many children and colleagues as possible.
During the coming days as Newtown attempts to try and come to grips with this monumental tragedy, more of these stories will surely surface.
But these initial reports reinforce the fact that Sandy Hook Elementary School staffers successfully used the training they received in preparation for the unthinkable, along with their instincts and knowledge of the facility, to protect themselves, their colleagues, and most importantly the children who were under their care.