A FIREFIGHTER caught up in the deadliest gun attack in US history has spoken out about the lasting trauma a year after the event.
Tony Dumbleton and wife Lucy were on a ‘dream holiday’ to America, and were ending their tour of the country in Las Vegas where they planned to renew their marriage vows.
But their stay turned into a nightmare after gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire at a country music festival on October 1, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500, in the deadliest ever lone gun attack in the US.
Lucy had gone to bed but dad-of-three Tony decided to go for a walk outside the MGM hotel where the couple were staying. He was met by people running towards him – fleeing gunshots from the Mandalay Bay Hotel which was just minutes down the road.
The Warwickshire Fire Service crew commander started providing first aid to those who had been shot, including an off-duty police officer called Andrew who had been hit through the shoulder.
The 44-year-old said: “I quickly struck up a bond with Andrew, he was the first person I came across in the lobby of the hotel. I was trying to keep him calm as I helped dress his gunshot wound. I was telling him where I was from and that I worked near Stratford where Shakespeare lived.
“I said I would take him to visit Stratford, Warwick Castle and to watch Aston Villa when he was better, which brought a smile despite the pain he was in.
“Then there was a stampede after reports a gunman had entered the lobby.”
Tony still clearly remembers what happened next.
He told the Observer: “I was on the floor with people screaming around me and then I ran, expecting to hear gunshots.
“I got to where some of the injured victims were hiding and kept running back into the abandoned lobby to get bandages and oxygen, which had been ripped off them in the stampede. Each time I got back I thought ‘I haven’t been shot yet’.
“At least 40 minutes later there was a collective sigh of relief when lots of paramedics rushed in pushing trolleys – especially as we were told to only expect one ambulance. It was like an episode of ER. The British in me thought ‘the cavalry has arrived’.”
Since returning to the UK Tony has shown signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which left him suffering flashbacks, hypersensitivity and nightmares. It is something he is working through with regular therapy sessions, which he says are very beneficial.
It took him several months to return to full time work and says since returning he has dealt with some ‘challenging’ incidents including fatalities.
The stress also impacted his home life and saw Tony move out of the family home for a short while.
Despite previously saying he would never return to America, Tony now believes revisiting the scene would help – although the couple say they would not renew their vows in Vegas after calling them off last time following the massacre.
Tony said: “I have to accept I may never know what happened to some of those I helped, but I live in hope.”