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UNLV Newsmakers 2017: 1 October

From tragedy comes strength.

Campus News  |  Jan 9, 2018  |  By Francis McCabe
Attendees at UNLV football game

Attendees at the Oct. 7 UNLV football pregame ceremony honoring victims and first responders to the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)

The night of 1 October was the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States. Dozens were killed. Hundreds wounded. Among them, members of the UNLV community.

But on that tragic night and the weeks following, Las Vegas and UNLV responded and came to the aid of those in need.

Through counseling and medical aid, remembrance ceremonies, fundraising and blood drives, UNLV students, faculty, and staff were there for our community and city. And, in turn, Southern Nevada was here to help our campus and community begin to heal. 

UNLV Responds

Moments after the violence ended, members of the UNLV community sprang into action. UNLV’s amphitheater became a place of healing and gathering hours after the shooting as hundreds held a candlelight vigil led by students. UNLV students also raised money to help victims by selling t-shirts on campus. Others brought bottled water and offered help to those people who were sheltered at the Thomas & Mack Center, where UNLV police helped protect those seeking shelter.

Medical Aid

The UNLV School of Medicine contributed to the medical response after the shooting. The school sent 76 residents and fellows to assist the hundreds of victims, most going to UMC. There were 30 emergency medical residents, 28 general surgery residents, eight orthopedic residents, three plastic surgery residents, three surgical critical care and three acute care used from UNLV. Dr. John Fildes, UMC trauma center's medical director and chairman of the department of surgery at the School of Medicine, said UNLV students augmented the hospital’s response.

Playing Tribute

UNLV’s hockey team was directly impacted by the events of Oct. 1 when assistant hockey coach Nick Robone was injured. The heroic actions of his brother and friend saved Nick’s life and those actions were honored by local and national media. The Skatin’ Rebels also honored Nick at a special pregame ceremony a week after the shooting and then took the ice and “played their hearts out” for Coach Nick with a dominating win over the Utah Utes.

Healing

The mental scars left by the shooting will likely last for the lifetime of those who survived. Las Vegas was hurting.  That’s when Michelle Paul, director of UNLV mental health clinic The Practice, and her team stepped in to try and help everyone and anyone they could. She was at the Thomas & Mack Center in the earliest hours of Oct. 2, providing crisis counseling for victims who’d just been bused there for shelter. And for weeks after the shooting, Paul and and mental health counselors across campus were there for anyone who needed to talk about what happened. 

Research

UNLV psychology professor Stephen Benning developed a study a week after 1 October to find out how people are responding emotionally.

Aside from recording their stories, the study featured questions on whether participants are feeling any post-traumatic stress or depression symptoms; a description of their personality traits; and measures of psychological well-being. 

“I’m proud to see our faculty members applying their research in the immediate service of our community in the wake of this tragic event,” said Diane Chase, UNLV executive vice president and provost.

Remembrance

In early November, a trio of shooting survivors spoke about their experience at a remembrance event at the UNLV Alumni Amphitheater. Students Karessa Royce and Joshua Abellera and UNLV assistant hockey coach Nick Robone shared their stories with hundreds of people who gathered to show their support. Former UNLV student Quinton Robbins, who tragically lost his life Oct. 1, was also remembered at the somber event.

UNLV’s Library Special Collections and Archives unit also contributed to a Clark County wide collaborative effort to collect and save physical artifacts, news stories, digital images, programs from post-shooting vigils, oral histories and even Twitter tweets sent during and after the shooting.

Crisis Management

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo shouldered an awesome responsibiltiy during the tragedy as he became the face of the investigation and recovery for media around the world. The New York Times profiled Lombardo, a proud graduate of UNLV's  Executive Crisis and Emergency Management Program.  The program maintains a close working relationship with Sheriff Lombardo, who routinely visits classes and students to help.