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Las Vegas’ heroic first responders speak about the Route 91 tragedy—and the Valley’s way forward

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Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Joe Geeb - Clark County Fire Captain

“After this event, I don’t think there is an officer or firefighter that just shakes hands. We hug now. I may meet them for the first time, but a hug comes with it. Because we know what we’ve been through, and I want them to know that hey, I’m here for you.”

Elaine Manio - UMC Trauma Nurse

“I’ve always wondered what would happen if Vegas was subject to some sort of terrorist attack. I didn’t know if our hospital would be able to handle it, but we definitely did. Then the people coming for a week now … it’s been nonstop. We just keep getting packages, there’s food trucks all the time, feeding everyone—not just the hospital staff, everyone—just all donating their time and resources.”

Cory Whitlock - Las Vegas Firefighter/Paramedic

“It’s really encouraging to see a community rise to the occasion, whether it be our professional firefighters, the first responders—AMR, Mediquest, community ambulance, security, Metro—even the public. Everyone rose to the occasion. You have to look at the silver lining a little bit. Bonding our communities together so that we can be more successful, more powerful, as one—that’s what this is all about.”

Sheryi Metzler - CSC Event Staff Supervisor

“Don’t be angry with the security people that are checking your bags. They’re just there to protect you. The next time you go through the metal detector, don’t be mad. Thank them.”

Travis Haldeman - Clark County Fire Engineer

“My wife and I attended the concert. We wake up every morning with a choice, and we choose joy. We don’t focus on the one bad man who was there that evening. We’re focusing on the thousands of good people who have come out since then. My advice to the people of Las Vegas is to just keep the good going.”

Monique David - UMC Trauma Nurse

“We were just doing our job. This is what we do for people all the time. It’s nice that people are recognizing us, but to us it’s a normal thing. That’s what we do all the time. People keep saying thank you, and we’re grateful for that.”

James Bunting - Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Firefighter/Paramedic

“It was an eerie feeling walking through casinos when it’s completely silent and we were the only people there. Usually, no matter what the time is, there is always noise going on, there are always people at gaming machines, at the bar or walking through the casino. Not seeing anyone was a eerie experience, something none of us were used to.”

Clarence Dunagan - Emergency Room Chairman at Mountainview Hospital

“Sunrise [Hospital] saw more than 200 patients [that night], and when I was there they said that 100 physicians responded. You had all of these sub-specialists that heard the call and came in. [The various specialists] were saying, “Is there a hand laceration you need me to fix? Any facial lacerations?” That kind of thing was really neat, response from the doctors, the PAs, the nurse practitioners. There was so much help there that it became too much. We had to start sending doctors and nurses home.”

Las Vegas Weekly expresses thanks to these heroes from the Clark County Fire Department, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, University Medical Center, MountainView Hospital and CSC Security—along with countless others from all over the Las Vegas Valley who have responded with bravery on October 1 and in the days since.

Las Vegas Sun reporter Mick Akers contributed to this story.

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