Friday, March 30, 2018 | 2 a.m.
When he returned home from a tour in Iraq as an Army combat medic, Oscar Monterrosa would look at the side of Las Vegas roads for bombs. Six months after the Oct. 1 shooting, he looks up at the Mandalay Bay as he drives down the Strip. Monterrosa was the paramedic on duty for the private ambulance company, Community Ambulance, that provided medical care at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
On the night of Oct. 1, before the first phone calls went out to other first responders, the staff of Community Ambulance were the ones already dressing the wounds of the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, making tourniquets out of anything they could find, including the seatbelts from their gurneys.
That night, Brian Anderson, general manager, called in everyone on staff. They sent out all of their 25 ambulances and used other private ambulances to help transport those who were shot to trauma centers at University Medical Center and Sunrise hospitals.
“The take-home message has been that your respective agencies, whether they be public or private, they need to work together,” said Glen Simpson, special events manager for Community Ambulance.
Community Ambulance had 21 off- and on-duty medical personnel helping that night, including a former staff member who was shot in the leg but continued to provide care. The months after, they were overwhelmed by the support of the community. Monterrosa said that people still thank him when he responds to emergencies. Although they are grateful for the support, they are still healing and struggling with their roles as heroes while mourning the lives they couldn’t save.
“You thank me for all the people I helped treat, but in the back of my head, I’m thinking about the ones who didn’t make it,” Monterrosa said. “It’s a little harder for me to accept those thank-you's.”
This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.