Jody Ansell’s left arm — the one that wasn’t pierced with a bullet during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting — is a tribute.
Among the tattoos on her arm: a clock stopped at the time the first shots rang out, a lyric from the song Jason Aldean was playing at that moment and a replica of the badge worn by Metropolitan Police Department officer Anthony Dellorso, the man she credits with saving her life.
“It’s an honor to know him,” Ansell said Wednesday after a commendation ceremony put on by the Police Department.
Nineteen officers or groups of officers were applauded for going above and beyond the call of duty, with a large portion of the awards going to people who responded to the shooting that night and for their work in the weeks and months afterward.
After Ansell, a Canadian, was shot, she was able to escape the festival grounds and reach safety at the hangar owned by Sundance Helicopters, where Dellorso stumbled upon her, recognized the severity of her injury and drove her to a hospital.
Ansell has returned to Las Vegas a few times since the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting, linking up with the some of the people who helped get her to the hangar. She and Dellorso have become friends, texting each other every week as they continue to grapple with the aftermath of the event that left 58 people dead and hundreds more injured.
“It’s nice to be recognized, but she is my greatest award right there because she made it,” Dellorso said.
‘It’s our job’
Amy Nemcik and 24 of her crime scene analysis colleagues were honored for their efforts to document the festival grounds, the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay and various hospitals where the injured were receiving treatment after the shooting.
While police were still clearing parts of the hotel, Nemcik, a supervisor, and two other crime scene analysts went with a tactical team to the 32nd floor — where the gunman fired upon concertgoers across the street — to document the scene and to disseminate information to the rest of the Police Department as quickly as they could.
“(In) the beginning, it was autopilot. It’s our job,” Nemcik told media after the ceremony, reflecting on her experience. “We’re here to do what we need to do and focus on the task at hand, trusting in all of our co-workers and the people that guide us and our leadership.”
As the magnitude of what had happened set in during the days following, it was a bit of a struggle, Nemcik said. Yet the people who work for her and with her have provided a great support system, she said.
The recovery process continues, she said.
“There are days that it’s, everything’s fine, and there are days that I come into work and I get a little anxious,” Nemcik said.
Ten representatives from the Police Employees Assistance Program, a counseling referral service for officers, were honored for their efforts in the shooting’s aftermath. In the 30 days after, program representatives reached out to the more than 1,000 officers who had some involvement in the investigation, program manager William Gibbs said.
“Needless to say, it stretched our resources to their limits,” but Metro received help from other valley agencies to help complete their task, Gibbs said.
On a nearly weekly basis, Gibbs said, officers come to the program seeking help for other issues; but, at some point it becomes apparent that the Oct. 1 shooting ties into their struggles.
“I have no doubt that we’ll be dealing with this for years to come,” he said.
Among the others commended included: officers who persuaded people not to jump from highway overpasses; officers who saved the lives of shooting and stabbing victims; one officer who drove another officer with a gunshot wound to the hospital; those who were the driving force behind the opening of the Family Justice Center; and an officer whose efforts in a downtown neighborhood correlated with a roughly 50 percent drop in violent crime.
Nearly 200 officers were commended at Metro’s Best of the Badge gala in September, when 153 of those officers were awarded for their work during the Oct. 1 attack.