On 24 August the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Exercise Division in collaboration with the Clark County Fire Department (CCFD) and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) released the highly anticipated After Action Report (AAR) of the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
On 1 October 2017, the unsuspecting patrons of the Route 91 Harvest Festival came under attack. The reason behind the attack is still shrouded in mystery as the question of “why” persists. As Homo Sapiens, we are inquisitive creatures who instinctively fear the unknown, while the ultimate unknown remains the human mind. What drove Stephen Paddock to methodically, and legally, accumulate 24 firearms accompanied by thousands of rounds of ammunition over a six-day period? What led this man to hammer out portions of his suite’s windows, pick up a rifle, and begin to indiscriminately kill 58 fellow human beings, injuring more than 850, then turning his weapon on himself? The AAR does not address these questions; Paddock’s motive remains unidentified.
The AAR does provide clarity regarding the preparedness and capabilities of the City’s first responder agencies. Las Vegas was, and is, prepared at extraordinary levels to respond to and recover from large-scale incidents such as this. Yes, mistakes were made and yes, there is abundant room for improvement concerning fine-tuning multi-agency preparedness, response, and recovery plans, policies, and procedures. However, the AAR contains an impressive table that lists dozens of proactive preparedness initiatives that have been enacted from 2005-2018. These initiatives place Las Vegas far above the standard as a well trained, capable, and resilient city that was as ready as any could be for a horrific incident such as this.
Las Vegas was only given 11 minutes from the time Paddock opened fire to the moment when he took his own life. Eleven minutes to observe, orientate, decide, and act while bullets were raining from an unknown floor of a golden hotel across a large intersection while thousands ran for their lives. Hundreds of innocent people were shot, trampled, and maimed during this short period of time. Officers were able to respond to the 31st floor within an impressive six minutes of Paddock’s first shots, and then, five minutes later were on the 32nd floor, which was one minute after Paddock had taken his own life, ending the active shooter threat. The response time was incredibly fast taking into account the absolute chaos and fog of war. The AAR is a stark reminder that even the utmost prepared and best-trained response agencies can be ineffective in stopping a motivated killer before hundreds are injured and dozens are dead.