EMT recalls Las Vegas shooting: 'It honestly still doesn't seem real'

Erin Veronick moved to Las Vegas about four years ago and was one of the first on the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history


By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

LAS VEGAS — A former Sunbury resident had just returned home to Las Vegas from a weekend away with her fiance when she received a call she was needed for a mass casualty incident.

Erin Veronick, a 2008 Shikellamy graduate and six-year emergency responder, moved to Las Vegas about four years ago and was one of the first on the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Veronick said she landed in Las Vegas at about 10 p.m. when she got the call.

“We were driving back to our apartment and saw 20 cop cars traveling the opposite way on the freeway. My email went off and I saw it was my company requesting help for a mass casualty incident,” Veronick said. “I called in and they told me to come in as soon as possible. I got to work by 10:30 p.m. and hopped on a truck with my partner. We followed a line of police cars onto the strip and were told to wait until the scene was secure. We sat in a row of about 10 ambulances at that time from four other companies.”

At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured when, according to police, Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant from Mesquite, Nev., opened fire on a music festival crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Sunday night.

Veronick said she was told bombs were involved.

“We were told that people near the grounds were loading injured people in their personal vehicles and taking them to the hospital. We were told there could be multiple shooters. We were told there could be bombs placed. It was chaos,” she said. “Eventually, we got moved around to an area of patients with minor injuries. At this point, we were a block away from the grounds and people were running around everywhere asking us to take them, but we couldn’t because they weren’t injured. I had two women jump into the truck while I was backing up and we had to direct them to where the police were.”

Veronick said there were many rumors flying around and she was unsure of what was actually happening.

“At this point, there was all kinds of talk about confirmed shooters at five different hotels as well as the airport. They all turned out to be false besides Mandalay Bay. People were getting hit at the festival grounds and running down the streets for help. Those helping them were calling in and I think the mass hysteria just set it (off). No one knew where everyone was coming from. We eventually got moved near the festival grounds and crews were coming and going and they received more calls,” she said. “I didn’t transport anyone and stayed near the grounds with police and other medical staff. SWAT teams were in and out of the grounds and occasionally bringing out uninjured people who were still inside.”

It took nine to 11 minutes of gunfire for Paddock to carry out the shooting, according to authorities.

Veronick said people were helping people who were injured.

“They were sitting with people who lost loved ones and comforting them. A lot of the guys didn’t have shirts on because they had used them inside on people who were bleeding. I was seeing what we had left in one of the rigs when a few of the guys came up and asked for blankets that they took to the rest of the people waiting. They helped pass out water,” she said. “They helped cover people who didn’t make it. We moved people so we could protect their privacy and keep them out of the media’s eye. At this point, there were citizens who had been using ladders and anything they could find to move people. We spent some time walking around the area looking for anyone else who needed help, but this was hours in and most of those injured were at a hospital by now.”

Veronick said she felt overwhelmed by the amount of support from residents.

“People without shoes and shirts were asking us what they could do to help us and help others. In such an awful time, it was really amazing,” she said. “Eventually, they found the suspect and we were told he was taken down. Something like this cannot fully be prepared for, but our companies worked together as a city and as a community. I can’t thank the police department enough for keeping us safe and handling the situation.”

On Wednesday, three days after the attack, Veronick said she was feeling the aftershock.

“It honestly still doesn’t seem real. I didn’t think something like this would happen in our city. Something so senseless. But Las Vegas came together as a community to help each other,” she said.

“I’ve listened to the radio a lot since and there have been people calling in to leave their numbers for those who were hurt, so that those leaving the hospitals could have shelter, a ride or clothes until they could get home or get another flight. It is truly amazing. The amount of support that the community has shown to the victims and the first responders has been amazing. I became an EMT roughly 6 years ago. I’ve gone through the mandatory MCI training multiple times, but I hoped I would never need it. But today I feel very blessed to be working alongside hundreds of amazing first responders in this city.”

Shikellamy School District Superintendent Brett Misavage said he was proud of Veronick.

“In the horrific situation that occurred, we are very proud of Erin for what she is doing,” Misavage said Wednesday.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Item

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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