(ABC News) -- Police, paramedics and firefighters who descended on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut moments after the massacre of 20 children and six adults said they had never experienced anything like it.
"We have never had anything of this magnitude," Sandy Hook Village Fire Chief Bill Halstead told "Good Morning America" today.
Many first responders arrived at the scene within minutes Friday morning, prepared to save lives.
They immediately began working as they had many times before responding to past emergencies.
"We set up a triage area right by our rescue truck for major injuries and we set up a second triage here at the firehouse for the walking wounded," Halstead said.
They soon learned that this emergency was unlike anything for which they had ever prepared. They waited and focused on the job ahead of them until the enormity set in. Halstead said the initial report from the building was "astonishing" as the number of dead continued to rise.
"Unfortunately, we only got to work on two people instead of 26 that we maybe could have helped," Halstead said.
His daughter Karin Halstead, a Sandy Hook firefighter and EMS captain, shared his sentiment.
"I think that's the toughest part, is we're trained to do this and we wanted people," she said. "We wanted to take care of people and keep them alive and there's nothing we could do."
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