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“The Wild West:” Nurse Experiences of Responding to the 2017 Las Vegas Mass Shooting

NCJ Number
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness Volume: 17 Dated: 2023
Date Published

This study of nurses’ experiences as responders to the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting found that nurses reported the event to be life-altering.


This study found that nurses who were involved in responding to the public mass shooting described the event as life-altering. Given the critical role of nurses in responding to mass shootings, it is essential to consider how nurses can be supported in the aftermath of these events and how mass disaster preparation can include attention to the needs of nurses. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of nurses who responded to a public mass shooting in 2017. This qualitative study was conducted with a sample of nurses who responded to a mass shooting, recruited purposively from a hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada. Intensive interviews were conducted with a total of 7 nurses, audio-recorded and transcribed for thematic analysis. Six themes were developed from interview data: (1) “The worst night of my life”: Overrun and overwhelmed; (2) Unexpected altruism and benevolence of patients and staff; (3) “The Wild West”: Giving victim care by improvising beyond rules; (4) Experiencing a range of reactions in the immediate aftermath and in the long term; (5) Shifts in nursing practice and evolving team dynamics; and (6) Defining realistic approaches to support staff mental health and mass casualty preparation. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023