Residents of Las Vegas who travel often hear the question “People live there?” Yes, we may be a city of 2 million, but we really are a town with strong inter-connectedness. There is NO ONE in Las Vegas who doesn’t know someone who was at the concert, working at the event or responded to the scene. We are leaning on each other as we try to bear the weight of this massive psychological injury to our city. Remember, beyond the fatalities and hundreds of injuries, there were thousands of attendees who were suddenly running for their lives under fire from above. There were thousands of first responders and staff at the event that saw scenes beyond what their training could ever prepare them for. There were thousands of hotel staff managing bleeding evacuees, locking down confused guests, trying to answer unanswerable questions. There were hundreds of hospital staff dealing with patient overloads far beyond worst case scenarios. Every mental health professional has been mobilized to try and keep everyone upright. Every victim advocate is working overtime helping families reconnect or identify lost loved ones. Teachers are struggling to reassure students that they are safe despite the images permeating the media. We are crying on and off, hugging everyone we see, and trying to keep breathing. We are called heroes but we don’t feel heroic – just scared, angry and sad.
How can you help us?
- Let us tell our stories when we are ready. People may or may not want to talk about what they saw. They may not yet be able to put into words what they went through. We do want to be listened to, but let us direct the conversation.
- Know that grief and gratitude, anger and thankfulness, fear and joy can exist at the same time. There is no one right way to handle traumatic stress. Learn about how to help people impacted by mass shootings at sites like http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/mass-shooting.aspx.
- This is personal to us, every one of us. The levels of survivor’s guilt are extraordinary in this tight-knit city. This happened in a supposedly safe, open area where we host many events (iHeart Radio, American Ninja Warriors), mere steps away from our iconic ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign. It was Las Vegas Boulevard, the main artery of our town. Any of us could have been there, and we are all struggling with that reality. (learn how to manage your guilt at https://whatsyourgrief.com/understanding-survivor-guilt/)
- Be patient with us. The healing from this has only begun. It will take months to find our new normal and will involve a climb through the mountains of primary victimization, secondary victimization, moral distress, burnout and compassion fatigue. We will make it through though because we love and support each other in this unusual town of Las Vegas.