On Oct. 1, with one gruesome and cowardly act, Stephen Paddock made himself a household name and ensured that his legacy would not be short-lived. While this villain acted alone, the heroes surrounding this incident did not. Hundreds of ordinary men and women have shown that deep down they are heroes, including some right here in Boulder City. One of those is Bryan Reid. At one point, Bryan was progressing toward an accounting degree at one of the top accounting universities in the nation. He was on the path to a successful career, but there was one problem: He was bored. His father-in-law came to visit him and, hearing his situation, told him, “You don’t belong at a desk job. You should be in the medical field.” The advice hit home.
Bryan left accounting and signed up locally to become an emergency medical technician. Continuing down that path has led him to his current position, emergency room technician at the new Henderson Hospital. He works nights and spends his days at the College of Southern Nevada progressing toward a nursing degree.
At 6 p.m. Sunday he began his shift. Sunday nights are always busy, and this was no exception.
“We were essentially full and only had a few extra rooms,” Bryan explains. “At some point one of the charge nurses got a text stating there had been a shooting, but we didn’t know the extent. Pretty soon we started to see various reports on social media, reports of 20 dead, and we started to get mentally prepared.”
Mental preparation was just the beginning, and soon it became clear that this was going to be a mass casualty situation.
“We started getting out extra beds and monitors. We didn’t know if there would be any patients to come out as far as our hospital, but we wanted to be ready.”
A mass casualty situation is something that ERs throughout the valley regularly train and drill for. In fact, there was a scheduled drill for today, Oct. 19.
“Soon we heard on the dispatch radio tones going off, ones I had never heard, asking all hospitals to check in and state how many beds they had. It started to be very real at this point,” Bryan recalls.
At 12:31 a.m., the first patient arrived. Others soon followed, coming in ambulances and private vehicles.
“At one point an AMR (American Medical Response) bus pulled up with patients. I worked for AMR for five years and never knew they even had buses.”
In all, 32 victims from the incident checked in to Henderson Hospital. Some had injuries from falls and others from shrapnel, but most had bullet wounds. How was a hospital with only 22 ER beds able to handle such a quick rush of people?
“As soon as we heard about the incident, staff began to show up. They would call in and see what they could do. Even before patients showed up, we had nurses and doctors off shift come back. Those scheduled to go home stayed. It was a total team effort.”
The extra staff proved crucial as the hospital worked in record time to get patients checked in from ER to the other floors of the hospital to free up space for incoming patients. They quickly got identifications and any needed information to expedite check-in.
As I heard Bryan’s story, I was struck by the fact that heroes were found all over. It was seen in patients who were willing to wait because they didn’t want someone who was in worse shape to miss out on treatment. It was in men like Dr. Roderick Ballelos, who quickly took charge in triage and got patients exactly to where they could get the level of care they needed. It was in nurses and doctors who stayed beyond their shift or showed up when off. It was in the people who showed up for days afterward with food for hospital staff or who stood in line to give blood because they just wanted to do something to help. It was in people like Bryan, who give up accounting degrees to follow their passion to help others.
Later that morning, the last of the patients had shown up to Henderson Hospital, and gratefully all 32 were safely discharged by Oct. 6.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, there will be an understandable desire to know every little detail about Paddock, what made him think the way he thought, what led him to plan the things he planned and, of course, ultimately, why he did what he did. In so doing, we will undoubtedly ask, why does such evil exist?
But I hope we spend equal time learning about the thousands of acts of heroism that we witnessed in Las Vegas that Sunday night, learn what made these men and women do what they did, spend time studying those we wish to emulate and find time to be grateful for the immense amount of good in the world.
Nathaniel Kaey Gee resides in Boulder City with his wife and six kids. He is a civil engineer by day and enjoys writing any chance he gets. You can follow his work on his blog www.thegeebrothers.com.