When the shooting started in Las Vegas, Dr. James Sebesta, a Tacoma-based surgeon who has attended the Las Vegas Country Music Festival for the last three years, stayed behind, running from person-to-person and doing all he could to help.
Sebesta is also a retired Army surgeon who spent 25 years working out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He spent time in combat zones in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’ve been in a lot of bad places in my career and seen mass casualties. But in the Army, we were ready for it and there was reason for it. I mean, it was war. But this was the most devastating thing I had ever seen. It took me a while after the shots were fired to believe this was real, because I just couldn't believe somebody would do this,” said Sebesta.
He says providing medical aid in the aftermath of the shooting was difficult, due to a lack of supplies.
"I mean we didn't have anything," he said. "We had no supplies, we didn't have an gurneys. We were just trying to load people into trucks and send them to the hospital."
Sebesta, along with friend Stephen Williams, used sections of chain link fence to carry victims from the outdoor concert area to a spot where they believed ambulances would have easier access to pick up patients.
“We were going getting one person and then going back and getting other people. It was all a blur. We didn’t have anything. We just knew we needed to get people to a place where there are medical supplies,” said Sebesta.
Sebesta is quick to point out that he was only one among many people, some with medical experience, that stayed, despite the on-going shooting, to help victims.
“This story isn’t about one person,” said Sebesta. "I wouldn't say there was a hero. I think there were multiple, multiple, multiple heroes."
For instance, his friend Stephen Williams - who has no medical background, but stepped in to help the shooting victims without hesitation.
"We were just reacting. I don't think we were thinking, we were just reacting," said Williams. "Like Jim said, there's no heroes per se, just a lot of willing people I saw trying to help others survive any way they could."