Home Emergency Management News Mass-Casualty Incidents: Making Sense of the Las Vegas Shooting

Mass-Casualty Incidents: Making Sense of the Las Vegas Shooting


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

The first reports from Las Vegas on the night of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history indicated that 20 people had died, and more than 100 were injured. Over the course of following day, more information was released from the Las Vegas Police Department, and the death toll rose substantially - to 59, with the amount injured topping 527.  The numbers following the Las Vegas shooting are absolutely staggering, especially considering just how premeditated an attack it was.

Mass-Casualty Incidents From An Emergency Management Perspective

Mass-casualty incidents are tragic. From an emergency management standpoint, they're complicated. They require numerous considerations to effectively manage and control the situation. In some situations makeshift morgues are required, in other situations, different types of resources or training specialties are needed to effectively control the situation. The amount of considerations are often extensive, especially considering that no two mass casualty incidents are ever the same. So many different factors come together to effectively manage a mass casualty incident.

Considerations aside, the human element of mass-casualty incidents is particularly difficult to comprehend. For one, when a mass casualty incident happens, first responders, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, firefighters, police officers and numerous other personnel rush to the scene to immediately take control of the situation, and subsequently tend to the wounded and manage the incident accordingly. It is particularly difficult to comprehend what it would feel like to manage such an incident: so many patients with serious and life-threatening injuries while also following completely different protocols (based on your profession) for handling such an event.

Triage is Vital at Mass-Casualty Incidents

Triage becomes a priority, yet the real tragedy lies in the fact that because there are so many patients, paramedics simply can't work patients the way they normally would if they didn't have a mass casualty incident.  This is difficult to accept for those working the scene.

There aren't any real words that can bring comfort to those that worked the emergency, those that were injured, and for the family, co-workers and friends of those lost in a mass casualty incident. It is difficult to make sense of a mass casualty incident because they are so sudden and always so tragic.  We're left without any real answers, except the horrifying memories of a tragedy and the beautiful souls taken too early. The only thing left to do is to prevent future tragedies and to tighten emergency management plans.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.