The Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner has opened a family assistance center for family members of victims of Sunday night's shooting on the Las Vegas Strip to gather and provide information to assist with identification of loved ones who may have died in the incident.
The center is part of the Coroner's family assistance operation and serves as a safe haven location where family members can gather to receive information about their loved ones and give information to Coroner's office staff to assist with identifications. The facility is located at the Las Vegas Convention Center Exhibit Hall S-2, which offers more space and accommodation than available at the Coroner's office. Family members of victims who are believed to have died in the incident are invited to the center by appointment. The family assistance center operation is not open to the public or media due to the need to provide privacy for family members.
"This is a tragic incident and our condolences go out to everyone involved," said Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg. "Our goal in setting up the Family Assistance Center is to provide support and comfort to family members, and at the same time gather the information we need to ensure victims of this terrible incident are properly identified."
The 24-hour facility will operate until further notice. It is staffed with professionals and volunteers trained to provide mental health support and guidance through the legal processes of death notifications, personal effects distribution and the provision of memorial services. The center is set up to provide several services for family members, including registration, dining, childcare, interfaith reflection, and in some cases medical and lodging assistance. Private interviews are conducted with family members to gather items to aide in the identification process. The items may include dental records, DNA samples, photos and other information. Meetings also are conducted to notify relatives when a decedent has been identified and to provide counseling. Families also receive updates on the course of the investigation during daily group briefings.
A family assistance center operation is one of many functions the Coroner's office is responsible for in managing a mass-fatality incident. The Clark County Coroner and Medical Examiner's Office is the legal authority for conducing victim identification, determining the cause of death, and managing death certification and notification of relatives. In addition to the safe haven facility, another component of the family assistance center operation is the 24-hour call center that the Coroner's Office activated early Monday morning in partnership with Nevada 2-1-1- to take missing person's reports.
Anyone who believes a loved one was directly involved in the incident is urged to report the person missing to the call center. The call center serves as the central data collection point for police departments as well as the Coroner's office to eliminate the duplication of missing person's reports among government agencies. Since Sunday when call center was activated, hundreds of missing person reports have been received. Callers in Las Vegas and in the state of Nevada should dial 2-1-1 to make a report. Out-of-state callers should call (866) 535-5654 to make a report.
* IMPORTANT MEDIA NOTES AND FAMILY ASSISTANCE CENTER PROTOCOLS *
Due to an obligation to protect the privacy and confidentiality of families, media will not be allowed inside the Coroner's Office family assistance center. In cooperation with the LVCVA, we request media observe the following protocols in covering stories about the operation:
- The LVCVA has agreed to set up a media staging area in its parking lots for live shots and reports from exterior of the facility. The staging area is located at the East of the South Hall.
- Outside of the facility, the media are asked to be sensitive if approaching potential family members of victims of this incident for interviews. No electronic equipment should be "rolling" at the time of the request – only after the request has been granted. Media is confined to conducting interviews in the media staging while on property at the LVCVA.
- Please contact the County's Media Hotline for questions and requests: (702) 455-3411