Looking back at Las Vegas tragedy and lending a helping hand

By Renee Palagyi, Senior Regional Disaster Program Manager

October 1, 2019- In many ways, it is hard to believe that two years have passed since the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and sometimes it seems like it was yesterday.

Palagyi, Renee

Renee Palagyi

I arrived two days after the shooting and spent the next three weeks leading disaster health services in the Family Assistance Center. During that time, the American Red Cross and its partners assisted more than 4,400 individuals who had been injured to some degree at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. I’m certain those numbers are a small reflection of the total number who were seriously impacted. I also believe that many of the 25,000 in attendance will carry scars from that night for the rest of their lives.

Each time my memories of that time move to the back of my mind, though, it seems they are awakened by another shooting. Just over a month ago, I went to Dayton to assist those friends and family members trying to make sense of the senseless.

I know most of us think when a tragedy occurs, “I wish there was something I could do. I feel so helpless.” If there is anything positive for me, it is that I AM able to go and help, in whatever small way.

The Red Cross is called upon to take a leading role and assist victims in the worst of times. Being a paid staff member or volunteer means that we can be there, listening to the stories and providing some small measure of comfort, a hug or a blanket around the shoulders.

I encourage those who feel helpless to think about volunteering. If not for these types of events, in some other way.

I’m sure many are familiar with the beautiful quote by Fred Rogers: When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ”

You, too, can be a helper.

To volunteer with the Red Cross and find your role as a helper, visit www.redcross.org/local/ohio/northeast/volunteer.html.

Watch the following video to hear Renee reflect on the Las Vegas shooting:

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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