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Proposed law could have helped response to Las Vegas shooting

Updated February 11, 2019 - 9:43 pm

A bill that died in the 2017 legislative session could make a comeback on the local level.

Assembly Bill 307 would have required the hosts of special events, like concerts and sports, in counties with more than 100,000 residents — as of now, Clark and Washoe counties — to plan ahead with first responders as to how emergency resources would be allocated in the event of an issue.

The bill, sponsored by former Republican Assemblyman James Oscarson and Democratic Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle, passed in the Assembly unanimously and in both chambers’ health committees, but it wasn’t heard in time before it died in the Senate.

Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell testified in favor of the bill in 2017, stating that an incident commander who knows the layout of an event and the location of resources will be able to respond more quickly than an official stationed elsewhere.

“We could easily be 14 to 16 minutes behind, and a developing event could spin out of control,” Cassell said at the time, adding that the Strip was “a significant area of concern for us.”

Now, he’s working with the Clark County Department of Public Works to amend a decades-old ordinance to match what he’d hoped would be put into state law two years ago.

“I think that it’s easier for an entity to do it at a local level than at a state level, and it’s easier to change,” Cassell said Monday.

The bill would have required planning to determine how emergency response resources should be allocated ahead of a special event to ensure that there are enough resources to meet the needs of the crowd in a medical emergency without depleting the regular emergency medical responders in a community.

Oscarson, who represented parts of Clark, Lincoln and Nye counties, said Monday that it’s impossible to predict whether having the operations in place would’ve altered response to the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting, which killed 58 and wounded more than 800 others at a country music concert on the Strip.

Sprinkle did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Reflecting on the Oct. 1 response, Cassell said it’s possible resources could’ve been deployed to the scene sooner with an incident commander on site, but he could not quantify how events may have changed.

His testimony in 2017 foreshadowed what would transpire six months later.

“It terrifies me because we are a resort community, and we have to be prepared on the front end with the right people in the right spot at the right time to mitigate these things as fast as we can,” Cassell said, according to committee meeting minutes.

Cassell said he expects that amendments to the ordinance will be presented at a County Commission meeting in late spring.

Special events now have incident commanders on site on a case-by-case basis, said Todd Ingalsbee, a lobbyist with Professional Firefighters of Nevada. He spoke at an Assembly committee meeting Wednesday in favor of renewed efforts to sponsor a bill.

“It’s unfortunate that it did not make it through the end of the session,” he told committee members. “We hope that at some point we can have discussion about that moving forward.”

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