Cori Hennessy dropped to the ground with those around her, fortunate to do so by choice, as thousands of concert attendees came to the sudden realization the pop-pop-pop filling the air in place of country music was gunfire. She waited for the right moment, a pause, and ran for cover under the bleachers alongside her brother and his fiancé. Gunfire streamed down again, now aimed at the bleachers Cori hid under with family. Another pause and they ran for the exit, thousands of others too.
Cori, a 25-year-old emergency medical technician for ProTransport-1 in Sacramento and a native of Cameron Park, seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a shooter sprayed gunfire down on Harvest 91 concertgoers in Las Vegas, killing at least 59 and injuring more than 500. However, the wounded Cori helped could only be thankful she was there.
Once safely through the outdoor venue’s gate with her family at her side, Cori’s instincts as a first responder kicked in, and she turned her attention to those who had not escaped unscathed. Cori saw people lying on the street, blood visible on clothing or pooling on the pavement, and rushed to help the wounded. She instructed the friends, family and fellow strangers of the wounded to apply pressure to stifle bleeding.
“It was kind of crazy, when we were still in the venue I tried to remain calm even though emotions were high,” said Cori, who has also served as an event EMT for VersaCare EMS and is an EMT instructional assistant at Folsom lake College. “Once we were out, my attention just flipped over to the wounded and I did whatever I could to help.”
While assisting a group who had already wrapped a bandana around a victim’s wound, Cori found a second wound on the back of the same victim’s leg. She took her brother’s favorite shirt, tore it, fashioned another makeshift tourniquet, and tied it around the newly discovered wound before carrying the victim to a nearby bench as the first ambulance reached the site, only then handing over care to the first responders and turning her attention to others who were injured.
Additional emergency medical services resources arrived to find many who had escaped the worst of the horrors seeking refuge inside the Tropicana and Hooters resorts across Reno Avenue from the concert site. Cori located a fire captain and volunteered her services. She was paired with two responding paramedics and asked to follow their lead. Over the course of 25 minutes, Cori helped triage the injured, get them into ambulances, and clear out the Hooters resort. Understandably worried about losing track of Cori and being unable to find her again amid the chaos, her family refused to be separated from her and remained by her side.
Cori had done all she could to get the injured the medical attention and care they required when, near midnight, local authorities placed the Tropicana and nearby resorts on lockdown. As part of ongoing security precautions, Cori and her family were ushered upstairs to a conference area with fellow concertgoers who found safe harbor inside the Tropicana. They entered one at a time, were patted down, had their bags searched and were guarded behind locked doors by fully armed police in tactical gear for hours.
At 4:30 a.m., the Tropicana lockdown was lifted. Cori and her family walked through the “ghost town” that was the Strip on their way back to their hotel. While Cori and her family made it through the tragedy without any physical scars, a friend they made while in Las Vegas leading up to the concert was among the unbelievable number of people shot and killed.
“I don’t think what happened has fully hit me yet,” Cori said. “It comes in waves where it’s fresh in my mind; little noises will make me think about all of it.”
Cori’s selfless efforts amid nightmarish circumstances help tell the story of her attitude, abilities and character. Her heroism speaks for itself.