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Fire and police departments respond to mass shooting after-action report

1 October after-action report released by FEMA
1 October after-action report released by FEMA
Posted at 12:54 PM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-28 11:55:02-04

FEMA has released an after-action report for the mass shooting on 1 October in Las Vegas.

The report was compiled in collaboration with the Clark County Fire Department and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department with the intent of distributing best practices and lessons learned for other communities around the country to better prepare for a mass casualty incident should one occur.

58 people died and more than 850 people were injured during the worst mass shooting in modern history during the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.


The report begins with an overview of CCFD and LVMPD and number of special events held in Las Vegas each year. It then provides an overview of the Route 91 Harvest Festival.


Next, there is a detailed timeline of what happened that night and then an overview of responding law enforcement agencies, fire departments and private ambulance companies. The overview gives information on how many personnel from each responded, number of vehicles, number of ingoing and outgoing calls placed, number of SWAT and strike teams, additional equipment deployed and number of dispatchers and communications specialists.

The report goes on to list 72 observations of the event that night. Some of the observations include:

  • The LVMPD Special Events section did not assign a dedicated dispatcher to monitor the Route 91 Harvest Festival special events channel, contributing to delayed, disorganized communications. 
  • There was not a unified command prior to the incident. CCFD was not integrated into the special event plans or operations.
  • The tent size and pre-staged medical supplies for the festival’s medical tent were insufficient for a mass casualty incident of this scale. Personnel were quickly overwhelmed, as trauma equipment was exhausted within minutes of treating initial patients.
  • The LVMPD Communications Bureau does not have a policy to guide dispatchers during a mass casualty incident. 
  • The LVMPD Communications supervisors and managers on duty on the evening of the incident could have benefited from additional training and support to effectively manage an incident of this magnitude. 
  • Self-dispatching of law enforcement officers, fire personnel, and other external agency personnel created staffing challenges and hampered the Incident Commanders’ and dispatchers’ ability to maintain personnel and unit accountability.
  • Security in the medical tent became an issue due to crowd panic, exacerbated by intoxicated festival attendees wanting to assist. This led to multiple altercations inside the medical tent that hampered patient care and treatment.
  • Communication difficulties with key medical providers complicated response efforts. 
  • The fire department’s North and South staging areas were not managed effectively and had difficulty coordinating with one another. 
  • Large number of ambulances made command and control difficult and poor accountability regarding number of patients and area hospitals. 
  • Equipment belonging to the overtime officers assigned to festival was in their cars. This meant that many of them did not have rifles or other critical gear with them when shooting began. They also did not access or authorization to use equipment that could have been helpful in response.
  • Off-duty public safety personnel complicated response in some cases.
  • Multiple conflicting reports about shooter's location and false reports of active shooters in alternate locations.
  • Fire department span of control issues hindered information sharing, which in turn resulted in challenges for Rescue Task Force teams in locating and treating patients. 
  • There were communication and coordination shortfalls among officers related to clearing the venue due to the lack of a forward command.
  • Fire department did not use black and orange tape to mark victims per incident policy, creating duplication of effort.
  • The CCFD Incident Commander was unable to leave his command vehicle because he needed to monitor radio traffic on multiple channels simultaneously. This confinement to his vehicle created initial challenges in establishing Unified Command with LVMPD. 
  • As the scope of the incident expanded on the Las Vegas Strip, there became a need to expand Incident Command System roles and assignments. 
  • The LVMPD Office of Public Information possessed an inadequate amount of staff to efficiently conduct operations for an incident of this magnitude. 
  • LVMPD headquarters was overcrowded with non-essential personnel during the incident, impeding operations of PIOs and the LVMPD DOC. 
  • Individual responders circumvented command and requested resources to the scene without Incident Command knowledge or approval.
  • Radio signal issues in certain areas of the Mandalay Bay prevented first responders from transmitting or
  • receiving crucial information in some cases.
  • Congested radio traffic made coordination difficult for response agencies.

The report was not entirely negative.

There were also several positive observations including:

  • Public information officers (PIOs) frequently released information on social media, which is a good practice for reducing panic and minimizing the spread of misinformation. 
  • The LVMPD staging area worked efficiently and effectively—staging resources and deploying a complete team within minutes. 
  • Despite some staffing challenges, the Clark County Office of Emergency Management and LVMPD Emergency Management worked closely together to ensure the Multi-Agency Coordination Center and the Department Operations Center received timely and updated information. 
  • Prior experience of LVMPD public information officers contributed to their ability to release frequent, coordinated messages during the incident.
  • The LVMPD Department Operations Center was able to provide essential logistical and coordination support because of LVMPD’s experience with pre-planned events, quarterly training, and effective leadership.
  • LVMPD personnel made timely notifications to specialized units and outside agencies, shortening the response timeline.
  • The Family Assistance Center was extremely effective in assisting victims and their families in the days following the incident.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sent this statement about the report:

We had already implemented a number of changes even before the FEMA report came out based on what we learned from the 1 October incident. Moving forward, we will continue to do so as we see areas we can improve on. Police work is always adapting and evolving.
Some of the changes we’ve made since 1 October:
- Added medical equipment (like mass casualty incident bags,) in our tactical vehicles
- Increased the amount of trauma equipment for a large scale incident
- Conduct more public education like encouraging the community to have an active shooter protocol like “Run, Hide, Fight”
One of biggest lesson learned: integrated training relationship with FD and other first responders.