Las Vegas Casino Radio Dead Zones Remain, as October 1 Marks Two Years Since Mass Shooting

Posted on: September 30, 2019, 02:52h. 

Last updated on: September 30, 2019, 03:06h.

Las Vegas casino resorts still have widespread areas inside their properties where radio activity is limited or nonexistent – commonly referred to as “dead zones.”

Las Vegas shooting radio dead zone
Images of the lives lost in Las Vegas in 2017 remain on display at the Clark County Government Center. (Image: Bridget Bennett/NPR)

October 1 marks two years since Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800 below across the Strip attending an outdoor country music festival. First responders trying to locate and subdue Paddock reported communication difficulties inside the casino property.

The shooting rattled Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada economy, as gaming and tourism numbers declined in the following months. Experts aren’t sure casinos have taken the adequate steps to improve communications inside their walls.

If a first responder is in a building and they lose their communication, they can lose their life,” Safer Buildings Coalition Managing Director John Foley told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “That communication is really the only lifeline that you have.”

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said their “biggest challenge” on October 1, 2017 was communicating while its SWAT team was in the Mandalay Bay stairwell.

Communication Critical

Nevada fire code requires that all high-rises built in 2009 or later have adequate indoor radio coverage. At least 95 percent of the building must have reliable radio communications for first responders.

Properties built before 2009 weren’t required to conform to such a mandate, nor are they forced to update their buildings to comply.

Mandalay Bay was built in 1999. And nearly every casino resort on the Strip was built prior to the 2009 fire code requirement. Only the Cosmopolitan opened after the enforcement.

The RJ reports that the Clark County Fire Department requested last year that 28 Strip properties undergo radio tests to determine if adequate communications are available. But it’s unclear how many have done so, and whether steps have been taken to improve radio and cell phone functionality.

Survivors Share

For those who experienced the October 1 horror two years ago, they say the pain remains.

All these people that think that you can just move on – you don’t,” survivor Heather Gooze told NPR. Another, Susanan Anely, said she recently had a panic attack at work when a coworker used a staple gun – and the sound reminded her of a semiautomatic weapon.

“You can feel 100 percent complete and fine and peaceful and have it be 100 percent taken back,” Anely explained.

MGM Resorts – owner of Mandalay Bay and the Las Vegas Village site where the concert occurred – announced recently it will turn the area into a community and athletics center.

A memorial honoring the lives lost is likely still years off. Government officials who have experience in dealing with tragic events and grief healing – those in Columbine, Colorado, for example – have recommended to Las Vegas that it take its time in deciding on a concept and location for the memorial.