Monday, October 2, 2017

The Las Vegas Mass Shooting

The biggest mass shooting in American history happened in my city last night.  If you haven't heard (and surprisingly I called a client today and they were in the mountains and had no idea what had happened) a lone gunman killed 59 people and injured more than 500 last night (Sunday) around 10:30pm at a concert venue in Las Vegas.  Meanwhile I received calls and texts and emails from around the world, many from people I hadn't heard from in years.  Are you OK?  Were you there?  OMG!  Yes, no, and I agree.

Am I surprised?  No.  Las Vegas has always been considered a pretty big target for some sort of major terrorism-ish event.  Am I horrified?  Of course.  43 million people a year come to Vegas to chill out and have fun and so far, despite numerous mass shootings around the country, nothing like this had ever happened here.  Am I impressed with the response by law enforcement and other first responders?  You bet I am.

I am pretty certain that had this happened anywhere else, the outcome would have been worse.  Probably much worse.  Response was huge (I'm guessing about 200 units responded within about 10 minutes of the first call) and the shooter's location was identified very quickly (imagine having to find a lone shooter in one room in a 3309-room, 43-floor hotel in the dark).  Metro located the gunman in what seemed like record time and ended the barrage of gunfire.  And in one of the most heartening shows of resilience, people poured out of the woodwork to help the victims of this tragedy.

In most places, a concert of 22,000 people, outside, on the busiest street in America, would have been a logistical nightmare to respond to.  But the agencies in Las Vegas (Metro PD, LV Fire, AMR, city officials, county officials, the FBI, hotel security, etc) train for such an event ad nauseum.  And today it paid off.  Obviously the loss of life was more than anyone would want to see, but considering that the guy had 22 weapons, many apparently full-auto or with trigger cranks, shooting from a high position into what amounts to a small, contained area...

And while the official response was excellent, the response from ordinary people around the city (who, quite frankly, I had mostly less than warm feelings for based on people's general attitude) surprised me.  I'm not often surprised.  People turned out in droves to help starting the minute the shooting happened (there were many reports of heroic behavior and people helping to save others), social media was lit up trying to give news and information to anyone who needed it, civilians pulled up to the scene and loaded victims into their vehicles to take them to the hospital, and so much was donated--from blood to bottled water to food to blankets to volunteer hours--that the agencies had to ask people to please stop, at least temporarily, because they had so much blood/water/food/supplies that no more were needed.

This incident seemed to transform a very disconnected city of transient people into a non-stop all-star team.  Hospital staff worked double and triple shifts without a break (did you know that all patients who arrived alive at the hospitals in the city remained that way?  That's nearly unheard of.).  News teams too were out and about non-stop so the news broadcasts on every major channel lasted for more than 12 hours straight.  A Go Fund Me set up by our local politicians raised more than $2.5 MILLION DOLLARS in about 10 hours.  Food was being donated to responders by restaurants and ordinary people faster than it could be consumed.  The major hotels gave free rooms to all who were impacted by the event.  The Thomas and Mack Center--where you usually watch basketball games--was turned into an emergency shelter nearly as quickly as people were evacuated from the concert site.  Air traffic was halted almost immediately (that shows a great deal of coordination with the city).  People waited in line happily (and that never happens) for more than 12 hours to donate blood.  People opened their homes, picked up strangers to take them back to their vehicles, donated every conceivable items that was requested through social media...the response from normal citizens and even tourists who jumped in to help just because they happened to be here was nothing short of amazing.

While this was a terrible tragedy and prayers go out to all who had to endure such a horrific experience, this brought people together like no other event in recent history.  I'm very proud of my city today.

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