More than two weeks after the deadly shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead, including two Alaskans, victims are still being treated, but Alaskans also responded to the shooting. Travis Ogden is a firefighter and a medic with Kachemak Emergency Services, which serves the area just northeast of Homer. Ogden was one of more than 180 Red Cross responders that helped treat victims after shooter Stephen Paddock fired hundreds of rounds into the crowded Route 91 Harvest country music festival.
A few weeks ago, Ogden signed up for the Red Cross to help with hurricane relief after Texas and Puerto Rico were decimated by two major storms. Just a day before he was set to fly to Puerto Rico, the Red Cross called Ogden to let him know he would be diverted to Vegas.
“All was I was thinking was hurricane type relief. Ok, we’ll be building shelters, we’ll be providing water supply or some sort of aid to individuals. Gunshot wounds was not exactly what I was considering,” he explained.
Ogden was assigned to a health services team with a nurse and mental health professional. The team helped a handful of the roughly 50 victims in critical condition. Ogden said injuries varied. Several victims had broken legs after being trampled while fleeing the scene, but he notes every single person he treated was recovering from gunshot wounds.
“I got to work with some folks that had been injured from Alaska. As far as I know, that wasn’t intentional. I was just kind of lucky. So, we had an instant rapport because I’m from Homer,” Ogden said. “That was kind of nice, but there were folks actually from out of country that I worked with, like folks from Canada, a lot of folks that were local, folks that were from the East Coast, West Coast, just everyone from all over the place.”
Ogden’s deployment lasted 10 days, and the goal was to get as many critical patients healthy enough to be medevacked home.
“But some of them were not doing well enough that we could do that. I don’t know many are still there now, but I would assume the number is pretty close to what it was when I left,” he said.
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, about 20 victims remained hospitalized as of Tuesday, five of which were in critical condition.
However, not every case was critical, and several locals were treated in their homes, but the shooting’s trauma began to show in Ogden’s patients in other ways as the days wore on.
Several developed PTSD. They were afraid to go outside and were terrified of loud noises.
Ogden adds the community’s scars could also be seen all over town. A memorial was set up near the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign where small crosses were hung on poster boards next to pictures of the victims.
“Then people started writing stories about the individuals and put them out there. I thought I would stop by and take a couple of pictures and walk around, but it was too impactful for me emotionally. I started to choke up and had to leave, but there were a lot of people there that were in a lot of pain,” Ogden recalled. “I guess one of the things that I’m happy to see, and it’s unfortunate that it had to come about this way I feel, but there was a sense of small-town-like communication, commiseration that was happening in Vegas, a lot more eye contact than what is normal, people searching the faces that were coming through or communicating with them, and that was really refreshing.”
Ogden also works as a network security administrator at the South Peninsula Hospital in Homer. He notes that he’s grateful the hospital gave him the time off to volunteer.
There is still plenty we don’t know about the Vegas shooting. Investigators are still solidifying the timeline of the incident. Paddock’s motive is also still unknown and questions remain about how he stockpiled so many assault rifles in his Mandalay Bay hotel room.