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First Responders Discuss Las Vegas Massacre Response; Tillerson Denies He Wanted To Resign From His Post. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 5, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] CHIEF GREG CASSELL, CLARK COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: I can honestly say for our first arriving unit was less than five seconds. And the reason I say that is Fire Engine 11 who station about a mile south on Las Vegas Boulevard, who's coming back from a traffic accident call. They took a left on Reno ahead on east, turned on to Giles and the captain is like that's gunfire.

They were right there at fence to the event. The captain picked up the radio and said dispatch, do you have reports of gunfire and something going on right now because I'm hearing a lot of gunfire. They said no, oh, yes now we do. It was that fast.

The floodgates open on Giles and outpoured dozens and dozens and dozens of patients, critically, some mortally wounded and swamp that engine company sitting in the middle of the street. So our first hands on patients was just outside the fence on the east side of venue and our people did a great job.

That captain's name is Ken O'Shaughnessy, immediately call for what we call first alarm medical assignment which brings many, many different units, engine companies, truck companies, battalion chiefs, more ambulances. And they called probably one of the most important things we called for separately bizarre mass casualty unit which we have outside today. And you have an opportunity to see, walk around and look what we have prepared to respond to events in our community.

We also had like they said 32 other calls. We have 32 other calls. And these calls were coming in and dispatch and sending units to these calls. So we have medical alarm coming and then we have other units coming in to try to get to get to those other calls. Now our responding resources because we are overtaxed at that point in time, we're coming from eight, 10, 15 minutes away because they are coming from stations of far away (INAUDIBLE) Topaz. They're coming from the city of Las Vegas, they're coming other areas. So we had some - we had to get our people down there.

Those units that were inbound on that medical alarm but Captain O'Shaughnessy's Engine 11 who beginning spending up on the east side of that venue. They encountered all those patients in every direction fleeing. They were stocked. There was people dying, they deal from the people critically wounded, they call for ambulances, they got them out the door and they got them in the ambulance, they got them to the hospitals as best they could.

Branches, we talk about the N.C. command system. So, I will expand an inches to touch. Branches were form. So you have N.C. commander, none on your teams and the commander we form branches. We had a south branch and that's a geographical area that at a person is put in- charge up. They request resources and they manage our event.

So we had a south branch, we had a north branch and we had an east branch. That's how we manage the situation. That's how we try to calm the chaos so to speak when things are going south.

So, I'm going (INAUDIBLE) some of our equipment that we carry on our vehicles here. We were able to get these equipment years ago through some grant money to put on every single rolling piece of fire apparatus in Southern Nevada, Southern Nevada. From Mesquite to North Vegas to Boulder City to Clark County, everything rolling the road is a fire apparatus has to step on.

Level four ballistic vests for our people. Those vests are able to stop rifle rounds. Level three ballistic helmets able to stop hand gun rounds.

And this fanny pack system right here designed to treat upwards of 20 critically wounded patients. Things such as chest deals for gun shoot wounds to chest, lung needles to help lungs reinflate after they collapse because of air blot. Different airway maneuvers and a tagging system it's unique outside of our normal triage -- our triage systems, we called sifting and sorting.

We have placed the stuff on our units. We have trained on it relentlessly or (INUADIBLE) a big part of that. We trained on it relentlessly and I have to harp on this overall, our training paid off. Our training paid off, because know what to do, it was much grander than we ever envisioned. However, we were able to handle it because of our people, out training, our professions and then our equipment and our relationships.

So the MACTAC group, we talked about that. It's a Multi-Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities from metro. They have been -- as I mentioned they have been with us side by side through this whole thing. We have been doing drills with them and basically and in a nut shell, I won't get into how it is deployed.

But we sat down with all the area firefighter's years ago and said we are going integrate with the police departments to get into people and hassles situations and control their bleeding, control their airway to save lives because we've learned the lessons from Columbine, we have learned the lesson from Aurora, and we as an industry have to move forward in Park County fire in Southern Nevada fire departments led that for this entire nation.

Led by two people and I'm going to point and they are going to be mad, Kittelson, Captain Kittelson, standing in the back room and he's very humble. He doesn't want to be recognized. And Captain Evan Hannah, standing on the back. Those two gentlemen for the last four or five years, they have drove this boat.

They have helped -- they have drove up in the vital part inside the fence with the police department and built this system along with the Hostile MCI Committee that came together to vet everything out. They have done this. They acquired the equipment to grant funding. They build this thing.

[12:35:03] And I told them yesterday, at some point in time, the enormity of what you have done by the United States fire services going to hit them. Because what we're going to writing in reports and what were going to be sending out is a result of this incident, it's getting upon Capitol Hill, in DHS, in the Department of Justice.

So, the work they've done and the work we've done collectively as a whole is going to change the fire service across the country and the way we integrate with our law enforcement partners on critical events.

So, at this point in time, I'll take a few questions regarding the incidence that night. Some of our response and then again like I said at some point in time I'm going to call the question off.

I do respectfully ask as you do what the manners down here in front me today which you don't swarm them. They came back today. We had some meetings yesterday to talk about where we are as organization. What we need to do to go forth mentally and psychologically to get better and stay healthy so we get a long worthwhile careers. So please don't overwhelm them.

They came back today specifically knowing that they are going to be at the throngs of the media. They're going to want to talk to you. They're going to want to interview. They're going to want your story. And I want them to share their story because I know it's a healing part of the process. We had 108 firefighters at that night, OK, with 14 chief officers that all teamed up and did a tremendous amount of work to get this taken care of. And these guys are ready to talk. So, with that, I'll take a few questions. Sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were here to call by the blaster on the attitude of situation and some of the training that we need to that


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they call and then over it, we take further here. How much of that training came in handy on some of this?

CASSELL: The training was, you know, it's very handy -- it's not -- I mean handy, it's very important. That was -- that's exactly what we did. That was -- we formed 16 rescue task forces at that night. That's the rescue task force where we take four firefighters and three or four police officers and put them into a group and we send them out. And those task forces that night were headed for the venue. We had 60 calls holding inside the hotels where people huddle up and get a various hotels, were calling 911 saying I'm shot and I'm injured.

But our dispatchers and I will talk about them in a minute, the dispatchers decided through their questioning determined they weren't mortally wounded, they weren't critically wounded. They tell them to shelter in place. We deploy those task forces to go into that area not knowing if there was gunfire, not knowing if there was anything going on there while these people were shot. So saw and vet it out the other reports of shooters.

We sent those task forces in to clear out the 60 calls. Once sec -- I did omit by mistake. The Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, Fire Alarm Office, they dispatch for Clark County Fire, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue and North Las Vegas Fire. They did a tremendous job on what is normally a routine Sunday night, they handled calls.

And if you have ever had an opportunity to sit on a call taker's panel and listen to a citizen, another person in absolute sheer terror for their life, for their loved one, those men and women at dispatch office did a phenomenal job. They are heroes that just sudden one billing and handled the phone calls but they're heroes because they handled the business. They got people to where they needed to be. They handled the needs of resources, requests of us as a Fire Department and as Chief Officer looking for their help.

So, I have to applaud them, because they did a tremendous job. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have -- you mentioned that the way the change fire service throughout the country have other 18 who reach out to you and if so (INAUDIBLE)?

CASSELL: Yes. We have taught some of this across the country. Captain Kittelson and Hannah have taught this in many times. I have the opportunity to do it myself with some of the fire chief, level venues that I've been to. And could not even begin to count the number of phone calls, texts, e-mails I received from my counterparts in the country. Canada, England that I've interacted with over the years.

To one say good job and others just say, hey, I remember you're talking about at our conference, thank you. Could you send that to me again because we really need to take and I've look at it. And many of them said you hit it out of the park, you got set it out at park, that was something nobody have ever planned for and you guys handled it. And we did. Yes sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain in more detail how -- you mentioned that some of the victims were going to various hospitals and then reporting that there was a shooter at that -- I mean hotel -- at that hotel. How did that make the situation more difficult for you? And then after that, there was someone here who is actually on scene and if they could describe the scene.

CASSELL: OK. What people there on scene will speak when you were done, you can interview them. But as far as the reports of the other hotels but those that complicates the matter.

We know we got a lot of things going on here in the immediate area around the concert venue. But when somebody, you get a 911 call saying we have shots fired at Caesar's Palace and we got shots fired at the hotel, as far away as Spring Mountain, that complicates our response. What is going on our town? It's just a single event or we now under a Mumbai style attack? Or we've got multiple things going and multiple properties? So we had to handle that.

[12:40:02] And the Police Department did a wonderful job and especially -- citing with our firefighters who did a wonderful job.


CASSELL: Yes sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there an estimate of time before the last patient was transported to the hospital? Or what time you guys did?

CASSELL: I don't have an in-time on transports to hospitals. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk about training in south. Can you talk a little bit about things or stories about things that they did, doing job learning (INAUDIBLE) or a job learning attacks, first thing in a moment it was the right thing to do.

CASSELL: Things that we learned in the moment. Well, I can't really explain (ph) on that right now because I haven't had the chance to talk to all and to see what they improvised on. I mean we trained on a lot of things. We have a good equipment and tactics that we employ. Any on scene provisions (ph), I really can't speak to, because I haven't had that many conversations with the men and women right now that were there that night.

Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first crew that was driving down the street, and they were overwhelm, what did they do at that point?

CASSELL: They began to treat patients and call for additional resources, which is exactly what we would expect them to do.

Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us if there was additional resources that came in, where did you happen to see it and when do they last move into the area where you had an active shooting in the concert (INAUDIBLE).

CASSELL: Well, they were coming from every single direction, north, east, south, and west. And they were headed to -- what have been a design staging area, however, they -- almost all of them encountered patients extracting in every direction. So they began to set up in those areas.

So as far as getting into the concert venue itself, we had our unit, they just happened to be there when it happens. But those units inbound were treating patients immediately from Tropicana all the way to Russell and behind hotels and behind the church. There was a lot of places where people ended up.

So, like I said, if this was contained any building or single address, we would have set stage area and we have deployed resources from there. We never got to that point because all the inbound resources were met with a bunch of people they needed to handle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what was on very last we get people into the concert venue, how long did that it take?

CASSELL: It was quick. We had people in there. You know, Reno traffic is pretty jumbled. But within minutes we had people at the gates to that venue people still running out. And as they're encountering people running out, they're trying to assist them in getting out, so we were there quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you breakdown 108 firefighters you mentioned, where those all part of the county or there's anybody is getting under to Las Vegas and the other jurisdictions you mentioned. Where do they come?

CASSELL: Yes. So, (INAUDIBLE) kind of give me a little brief update right now. There was 108 from Arkansas (ph), 160 overall as we looked at the books. And that's why I have the gentlemen from either entities here. I have Operations Chief Ray Kessler from city of Las Vegas Fire, Fire Chief Joe Calhoun from North Las Vegas Fire, and a long time friend of mine, Doug Koopman from Henderson Fire. And I had here specifically, because every single entity fire-wise was there, every single one.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk about the nature of the imagery given the type of weapons that were used. And, you know, what challenges that brought compared to other things that you dealt with the past?

CASSELL: We had a very wide range of injuries from trample type injuries to sprains and strains, and fractures, people trying to get out and get over the fences and walls, laceration from these types of things. But we did have this unfortunate high power weapon rounds that struck people and caused the damage that high power weapons do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk about how that compares to, you know, what about in the past, is it more difficult those in the moment or that's just a matter of triaging get to them?

CASSELL: It's a matter of triaging getting folks out as fast as we can, so. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk a bit about of (INAUDIBLE) of all that? Is it possibly to say what it was like before you started operating like that with the police department? And also did you think incident like this was inevitable (ph) in Las Vegas?

CASSELL: OK. So the first part of your question is a command system and tying in with the police department. Ten years ago, I can say and I believe I would have the agreement of my friends over at metro. This would have been much worse on the command and control side. More people would have died because we were not able to engage as fast as we can with them to do what we need to do. So 10 years ago, this would have been much worse to that.

As were -- we anticipate our plan on a event like this in our community, we have. We have thought that something is coming down the pipe. This is the world that we live in unfortunately. We are on a venue of soft targets, our community. We are an international tourist destination, we're a target and we know that.

And an example of that is placing a deputy chief over that responsibility to integrate and make sure that we're tied or we're doing the right things with hotels, we're doing the right things with our law enforcement partners. Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any calls about smoke or possible fire in Mandalay Bay Hotel, especially in the first and second floor (INAUDIBLE).

[12:45:03] CASSELL: We had calls in from standing in the middle of the street. If you look at, you can see the alarms going off in the building. We made a phone call over there and said is that -- do you have a fire, because we have nobody to send. At that point in time, we had nobody available to send.

That was close. We would have to bring use from a long ways away. And because fire alarm office and their professionalism and their dedication, they're immediately able to ping over to Mandalay Bay and came right back, so it's -- it result of police activity. So we knew we didn't have a farm but alarms did go off at the hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the 32nd floor or first?

CASSELL: 32nd floor and you see there, they're in a group of three or four, I can't speak exactly at that inspection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get other calls or sending you over text, did you get calls house fires, your kind of routine stuff (INAUDIBLE).

CASSELL: That's a very good question. So, what we call Mrs. Smith, right? Mrs. Smith is our code name for the citizens. We still had calls, Mrs. Smith was still having heart attacks, people are still having traffic accidents, they're still getting sick and they're still having minor events that we responded to.

So, our system was very, very busy that night. And that event right there, we have a move up system from our partners. Henderson Fire start shuffling resources to fill the gaps, North Vegas, city of Las Vegas, they're filling those gaps so we can minimize a response times when these things happen. And we have a tremendous amount of resources centralized in one area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief Cassell, your reaction on --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- constantly (INAUDIBLE) went into action, they were there coming out.

CASSELL: Absolute heroes. Absolute heroes. They didn't have any equipment with them. They didn't have any protection. They were on site, boom. Do their training they knew, they got to react. They got to get some tourniquets on. They go take belts to make tourniquets. They got to do things in trying to save people's lives. They're going to help carry people out. Absolute heroes. Everybody inside that venue that was helping people absolutely heroes, citizens off duty fire and EMS, and P.D. personnel, and the stand by personnel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you guys used equipment? The police equipment that you didn't show us here.

CASSELL: When I arrived, every single person that I saw was in ballistic gear. Yes. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was any of the gear pierced or damaged, where you would struck (INAUDIBLE)?

CASSELL: No, we had no -- none of our personnel took rounds and none of our personnel were hurt. And this was -- actually we had one gentlemen suffer a knee injury from one of the other fire departments, but that was not related against it, it was related to gravity, he got tripped. Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about the (INAUDIBLE) guy starting to train with police and the (INAUDIBLE) very well.

CASSELL: We started because we saw what happened at Columbine. We saw what happen in Aurora, Colorado. And we saw from the reports of how these people died in the lack of interaction at some points with the police departments and we knew we had to fix that. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Follow-up to an earlier question. So did you have the staff inside Mandalay Bay deployed above 32nd floor during the night?

CASSELL: We did not.


CASSELL: OK, I'll take two more questions. I'll take no more questions. Thank you for your attendance today. And I want to reiterate these gentlemen right here in the front row that we either there enjoying the events and got thrown into this mess, for those that responded from their stations, for those of us that came from home, thank you. Thank you very much.

And please, please be gentle on my people. They are not P.R.-trained specialists. So please be gentle with them. Thank you.


CASSELL: Oh, the MCI rig is out back, for those of you she go outside, we do have it out there with some pets. We shifted it out to the front. So I get on my updates on the fly, this is how it work. It's out front, so anybody to go and look around that, you can see what are vehicles --

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I'm John King in Washington. You have been listening to a remarkable briefing, Chief Greg Cassell of the Clark County Fire Department. Remarkable briefing detail and the response effort which he says began seconds after gunfire opened up on the Las Vegas trip Sunday night. It began seconds later because Engine 11 was responding to a traffic accident returning to the station from a traffic accident. The captain on that apparatus heard gun fire and they responded remarkable display there.

For all the sadness now the horror in recent days, 58 killed, more than 500 injured. Reminders there are many heroes on scene. Fewer lives lost, some people will recover faster from their injuries because of the heroic work there. It was fascinating to listen to that, but as it was playing out.

We also just learned the conversation we had a bit earlier in the program, a Republican-led bill to ban the sell of those so-called bump stocks used to modify a semi automatic rifle and to make it function like an automatic rifle, legislation to ban the sell of those so- called bump stocks expected to be introduced later today in the House of Representatives. So keep an eye on that.

We have a quick break when we come back on "Inside Politics." The president says it's fake news. So then why did the chief of staff have to meet with the Secretary of State about his tensions and frustrations with the President?


[12:52:19] KING: Welcome back. The Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, denying again reports he's so frustrated with President Trump he came close recently to calling it quits. But he isn't denying this nugget in the press reporting. That he called his boss, the president of the United States, a moron.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that. I mean this is what I don't understand about Washington. Again, you know, I'm not from this place.

But the places I come from, we don't deal with that kind of petty nonsense. And it is intended to do nothing but divide people. And I'm just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration.


KING: That just one of these dramas remarkable moments add in this from the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos. And I support them very much. You know, he ends up not being supporting in the way that I would hope a secretary of state would be supportive and that's just from my -- from advantage point.


KING: The White House is trying to spin he meant chaos around the world. No, he meant chaos generated by the president from his tweets, from his management staff, from his constantly undercutting team members of hid cabinet including Secretary Tillerson at this free, it gets lost in everything that's going on but that was kind of a wow day yesterday.

LAURA MECKLER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: It means, it's crazy. I mean it can -- I mean every day is kind of a wow day in Washington these days. So I don't know if it yesterday was any different, but then the question becomes, you know, can Tillerson continue in this job? Does he want to continue in this job? I mean he said he does, he said he respects the president, but that obviously the odds with reporting all over the place that he said otherwise. And if you put it this in context what else is happening with the administration.

You know, he doesn't have a secretary of Health and Human Services.

KING: Right.

MECKLER: He doesn't have a permanent secretary of Homeland Security. He said it's been a merry-go-round at the White House. You know, can he afford to lose someone this important?

MICHAEL SHEAR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well it look the funny thing here is that we're talking about this question of whether or not the secretary of state might leave even before this incident. There already was a term for that, right? People called it Rexit.

Rex Tillerson might exit. And -- but I mean the fact is this is not the first time there's been tension and questions about how long he would stay in this job. And I think, you know, Washington seems to be forming a consensus that it wouldn't be long.

KING: And the chief of staff had a mediated yesterday. John Kerry did not travel to Las Vegas with the president. He stayed here to talk to Rex Tillerson. So take time for now. But --

RACHAEL BADE, POLITICO: For long right. I mean I think that -- I think in my view the administration and the president kind of deny that there at this tension with Tillerson is kind of like a kid with chocolate allover his face denying that he's been, you know, making around in the cookie jar, right.

[12:55:14] I mean go back to this weekend in his tweet. You know, the president saying that Rex is wasting his energy and trying to talk to North Korea. I mean how often do we see a president of the United States under cut his secretary of state in such a manner there was no doubt?

KING: While (INAUDIBLE) too right.

BASE: Right.

SAHIL KAPUR, BLOOMBERG: Quite a long response to a simply yes or no question. The simple no would have sufficed that that wasn't true. I think that look it's also not the first time Senator Corker has said some very critical, very candid things about this administration after it was reported that the president had leaked some classified information to Russian operatives.

Senator Corker told reporters in the capitol that the White House was in the midst of a downward spiral and haven't get it together. Those comments strike me as in channeling the views of many Republicans who are steeped in foreign policy. Who are knowledgeable that their two cants in the White House right now what corporate call the Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly camp with people who want to make this complex tradeoffs and foreign policy and believing me too versus the political folks who want to make up quite.

KING: Or the adults and --

KAPUR: Right that is --

KING: I'll leave it there. You can figure it out that at home. Thanks for joining us in Inside Politics. See you back at this time tomorrow. Wolf Blitzer is in the chair after a quick break. Have a great day.