(p. A1) In the days after the shootings at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, many stories emerged of bystander courage. Volunteers combed the grounds for survivors and carried out the injured. Strangers used belts as makeshift tourniquets to stanch bleeding, and then others sped the wounded to hospitals in the back seats of cars and the beds of pickup trucks.
These rescue efforts took place before the county’s emergency medical crews, waylaid by fleeing concertgoers, reached the grassy field, an estimated half-hour or more after the shooting began. When they did arrive, the local fire chief said in an interview, only the dead remained.
“Everybody was treating patients and trying to get there,” Chief Gregory Cassell of the Clark County Fire Department, said of his personnel. “They just couldn’t.”
The experiences in Las Vegas have implications for the nation. Emergency medical services have changed how they respond to mass attacks, charging into insecure areas and immediately helping the injured rather than standing back. Still, every minute counts, and bystanders can play a critical role in saving lives, as shown in the aftermath to the shooting on Oct. 1  outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
. . .
(p. A14) In Las Vegas, several factors impeded the arrival of emergency medical workers at the scene of the shooting itself.
Confusion abounded. One fire crew that happened to be passing by during the first few minutes saw people running from the festival and heard what sounded like gunfire. “You got reports of anything?” a member of the fire crew, Capt. Ken O’Shaughnessy of Engine 11, asked a dispatcher over the radio. “That’s a negative, sir,” he was told. Three minutes later, the dispatcher confirmed that there was an active call.
Members of that crew remained nearby, and later assisted injured concertgoers.
“From what it sounds like talking to them, they didn’t identify the hot zone because they didn’t know where it was,” said Mr. Cassell, the fire chief. “They just knew they had dozens and dozens of critical patients.”
More than 10 minutes after the shooting began, a battalion chief advised firefighters to “stage at a distance” and put on protective vests and helmets as he tried to understand the situation and make contact with a police lieutenant on the scene. The battalion chief radioed in seven minutes later that there were reports of gunfire at both the concert grounds and the Mandalay Bay across the street. “We can’t approach it yet,” he said.
The injured were already fleeing and being carried out in several directions. “Those crews making their way to the concert venue were met at every turn by patients in the streets,” Mr. Cassell said. The fire department helped establish several assembly points, and ultimately, about 160 firefighters and emergency medical workers from departments in the region went to the scene.
Inside the nearly empty concert grounds after the shooting stopped, some volunteers remained, roaming among the fallen near the stage, checking pulses and finding some of them unconscious but still breathing.
For the full story, see:
Sheri Fink. “‘First Medics on Scene in Las Vegas: Other Fans.” The New York Times (Monday, Oct. 15, 2017): A1 & A14.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 15, 2017, and has the title “‘After the Las Vegas Shooting, Concertgoers Became Medics.”)
The passages quoted above, provide one more example of one of the main messages of:
Ripley, Amanda. The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why. New York: Crown Publishers, 2008.