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EMT's Thought It Was an Easy Gig. Then the Shooting Started

Dave Becker/Getty Images

A couple crouches in the chaos after the Oct. 1 mass shooting.


Mike Glockner is the special events lead for Community Ambulance.

It's his job to go to concerts and other events and head up the medical tent, which is usually the place people go if they've had a bit too much to drink, or if they've accidentally cut themselves, or if they need sunscreen.

Glockner was in the medical tent at the Route 91 Harvest festival.

As the shots rang out on October 1, his sleepy tent became a war zone medical facility, as hundreds of people ran, crawled or were carried in.

“We were overwhelmed with the number of patients that we had,” he told the KNPR’s State of Nevada.

The tent was equipped with lifesaving equipment but usually, they didn’t need it. Instead, they normally just gave out band-aids or provided a place for people who were overheated to get out of the sun.

Besides the tent, he had six other medical teams stationed around the festival grounds.

He said he was part of the medical tent staff at last year’s festival as well, “it’s normally a really good time,” he added.

Glockner said he, other medical staff and Metro Police officers in the tent knew almost immediately it wasn’t fireworks, which is what many people in the crowd believed it was.

“That doesn’t sound like fireworks. It sounded too close,” Glockner recalled thinking.

He immediately got on his radio and tried to get in touch with his crews: “’active shooter, shelter in place. Radio check. Let’s get a roll call’ and nobody answered,” he recalled.

Glockner said he headed out to where he knew his crews were stationed but was pulled back by his operation manager in the tent. His manager knew he was going to be needed there.

“And before I knew it, the tent was full,” he said.

He said off-duty members of his team immediately started to help.

“Thankful they did because if they didn’t I think we would have been overwhelmed because they took over,” he said. “We had our EMS training officer. She’s actually an RN. She took over the triage. She took the brunt of the hit, which is I believe is the worst is to tell somebody that we can’t help them because they’re already gone.”

Glockner said because they were in triage mode they had to start by checking for a pulse. If there was no pulse, they would have to move onto another person who did have a pulse and that they could at least try to save.

“That was the hardest part when you have to tell someone that you can’t help them anymore,” he said, “Everybody was looking to us for help and we tried to help as many people as we could.”

He said one woman he was helping had a gaping wound to her face but when he checked her lungs he also heard a chest wound. When he started to patch up the lung wound first, the injured woman’s husband started yelling him at him about the gunshot wound to her face.

Glockner had to explain to him that the lung wound was there and much more serious.

“In a situation like that you have to certain things first,” he said.

Glockner said they got help from all kinds of people - nurses, doctors, and medics - who just ran into the tent and offered help.

“Overall, the amount that our crew did, what our off-duty crew did and what the public did will always be with me. I’m so grateful and so impressed with the humanity.”

They used just about anything to create tourniquets to stop the bleeding - belts, ripped up sheets, and even a stethoscope were all used.

In the midst of the chaos, the registered nurse who took over the triage told Glockner they needed more supplies. She told him to run to the ambulances across the street from the tent. Because the tent was so full of people, Glockner wasn’t able to walk through the front doors. So instead, he busted through the tent wall to get to ambulances and bring back desperately needed supplies.

He believes that’s when he got a cut on his head, but he’s not sure. It wasn’t until later that Glockner took a moment to look at himself.

“At one point, I looked down and I saw that I had blood all over my gloves and up to my elbows and then my pants were completely covered in blood from all the different people I had seen,” he said.

Eventually, Glockner was able to gather with his crew, take a breather and wash the blood off his hands. He drove himself and another crew member home. They sat in near silence he said.

When Glockner got home, his fiancé greeted him.

He said now -- days after the shooting -- talking is helping and so is spending time with his extended family that lives in Lincoln County.

And although he served in the military, Glockner said no one can prepare for what he saw on October 1.

Mike Glockner, Special Events Lead, Community Ambulance

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)