In the midst of the horror that played out last week at the Route 91 Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, communities mobilized to provide support for victims of the mass shooting. Even as the bullets showered upon the crowd, stories emerged of countless concertgoers and first responders risking their lives to evacuate the wounded and stranded.
Steve Keys, a fireman from California who was in Las Vegas for the concert, exemplified the often hidden capacity for civil society to make a positive difference in the face of disaster. According to Fox News, Keys was performing CPR on a victim when he was shot in the chest — but he continued to help other wounded victims get to safety before finally seeking medical attention for himself.
In a story published by the Washington Post, Cody Robertson, a festival attendee from Columbus, Ohio, similarly performed CPR on Michelle Vo, a stranger he met only a few hours earlier. He then carried her to a pickup truck that was ushering people to hospitals, before returning to the festival grounds and collecting her belongings. With the aid of Vo’s brother-in-law, he spent nearly six hours searching various hospitals in Las Vegas until locating Michelle at Sunrise Hospital. Although her injuries were fatal, his will to find a woman he had only just met in order to give closure to her family, is an example of heroism in the face of terror.
Ambulances were quickly overwhelmed, but citizens responded by using their personal cars and taxis to respond to the scene, transporting the wounded and those seeking safety. Taylor Winston, a former Marine, attended the festival with some friends and his girlfriend, as described by Fox News. Once shots were fired, he relied on his military instincts and searched for a vehicle to transport injured victims to a hospital. Before ambulances were able to respond to the scene, Winston and his friend made two trips, transporting between 20 to 30 victims to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, approximately 4.4 miles away. In a joint effort, festival attendees and authorities tore down the fence that surrounded the venue and used it as makeshift gurneys to transport the injured.
The enormous civilian response paired with an effective response from police and medical personnel saved many lives.
After the attack, tales of resilience and unity continued. Due to the staggering number of injuries, many with gunshot wounds, hospitals were unable to secure the amount of blood needed. The Las Vegas community reacted in force, donating an overwhelming amount of blood. Two days after the shooting, blood donation lines continued to wrap around blocks, with donors waiting for hours.
Similar to the “Occupy Sandy” movement that raised millions of dollars for Superstorm Sandy victims using an online wedding registry, a GoFundMe page, started by Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak, has accumulated more than $10 million since it was posted on Monday. Over 79,000 people had donated to the campaign by Wednesday, raising funds to provide relief and financial assistance to the victims and families of the shooting. Additionally, social media banded together to condemn the attack and to help those affected. Hashtags like #PrayForVegas and #VegasStrong have taken over Twitter.
Delanie Smither contributed to this report
Unity Forever Vegas Strong – GoFundMe