Jason Bess and Steven Keys were both out with friends and family at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when the night descended into chaos.
Around 10:05 p.m. on Oct. 1, a lone gunman had fired upon the 22,000 concertgoers across the street from the venue. Among the thousands in attendance were the two Glendale firefighters.
The two administered first-aid to whomever they could, even while the shooting continued.
In the end, 59 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded in what has been called the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
Bess and Keys were recognized for their bravery during the annual Glendale Fire Department awards luncheon Tuesday afternoon.
Bess received a Fire Chief’s Commendation for his action during the incident. ABC 7 Anchor Ellen Leyva, who presented the awards, recounted what the fire engineer did.
After fleeing from the venue, Bess found refuge in a nearby building with a group of more than 200 people.
“Jason and another off-duty EMT started doing assessments on everyone to see if anyone needed immediate medical attention,” Leyva said.
She said Bess spent over two hours looking after people and even took supplies from a nearby ambulance in order to administer aid to four people who had been injured.
For Keys, Leyva read an account of what the firefighter-paramedic wrote of that night. When the shooting began, he assumed it was a firecracker or fireworks going off.
But then, a woman several yards away from Keys fell down and a man she was with began yelling for help. The woman had been shot.
“Once I recognized her condition … I started giving her chest compressions,” Keys said.
While giving the woman first-aid, Keys was grazed by a bullet. He said it was at that moment, he realized people were being deliberately targeted.
Unfortunately, he said the woman didn’t survive.
Sometime after taking cover from the shooting, Keys tried to help other people who were wounded.
“I started assessing these patients and realized quickly they were deceased,” he said. “I decided to provide a brief effort of CPR in the hopes that it provided some comfort to their families.”
Keys eventually joined with two other people and used an unattended truck to help shepherd the wounded to safety, while police officers provided cover.
“There were dozens of amazing and heroic, brave people pitching in to provide care, and it was an honor to work beside all of them,” he said. “None of them who I will ever know their names.”
For his actions, Keys was awarded the Medal of Valor — an honor that hasn’t been giving out in over three decades, according to the department.
In addition to Bess and Keys, more than 30 other first responders and civilians were honored during the ceremony.
Distinguished services awards were presented to firefighter-paramedic Gilbert Pedroza, engineer Brian Stien and Capt. Jason Broussard.
The Service Above Self Award was presented to Nicholas Lam, vice president of Pacific BMW and the Bidamar Corp., for his extensive charitable work.
The Ambulance Operator of the Year Award was given to Rudy Morefield, while engineer Ara Hoonanian received the Ambassador Award.