Springfield, OR – A survivor of the 2017 Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival shooting has been sworn in as the newest member of the Springfield Police Department.
Lauren Card, 23, said that she witnessed chaos and tragedy as law enforcement officers ran towards gunfire when Stephen Paddock started shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
What she witnessed helped her to find her calling, The Register-Guard reported.
Officer Card and her family survived the brutal attack that left 58 people dead and over 500 more wounded.
She was sworn in on Aug. 20, according to the Springfield Police Department.
She and her mother, Robin Baird, attended the country music festival with Bair’s boyfriend, Kevin Lee, and his daughter, Kaila Lee.
“We thought it sounded like fireworks,” Baird told The Register-Guard in the wake of the mass shooting. “And I was looking for smoke or something, but then all of a sudden, I heard more shots, like a gun going off.”
Officer Card and her family scrambled for cover, as bullets ricocheted off of metal structures that surrounded the stage.
“We knew we needed to leave,” Baird explained. “We…just started running.”
The family scaled a 10-foot brick wall and several fences as they raced towards the safety of the MGM Grand Hotel.
“Our legs were covered in mud,” Baird recalled. “I was wearing a white shirt, and the back was just all nasty from falling and climbing.”
Despite the “madness and craziness” of the scene, Officer Card recalled feeling relieved when she saw law enforcement officers running into the mayhem behind them to save lives.
“And in that moment, I kind of had a sense that, ‘OK, the police are here. They are going to fix it. They are going to make it better. Everything is going to be OK,’” she told The Register-Guard.
“I want to be that person for someone else in that situation,” Officer Card explained. “When they’re going through something crappy or going through a hard time, I want them to see me and be like, ‘OK, she’s going to fix it. She’s going to make it better.’”
During the hiring process, the department asked Officer Card tough questions regarding how she might react during future violent and dangerous encounters she’s sure to experience.
“She was asked how she felt like that had impacted her and how she might respond if she found herself in a similar circumstance, because ... depending on the person, that could be traumatic for a long time and that could trigger post-traumatic stress,” Springfield Police Lieutenant Scott McKee told The Register-Guard.
Officer Card told the panel that she already “knows what it’s like to be shot at,” and described to them how she would respond in a similar situation.
“I thought that was really compelling,” Lt. McKee said.
The Oregon State University graduate will begin field training next week, and is slated to attend the police academy in October.
“I am very proud of her for becoming an officer and wanting to serve the community, especially after Route 91,” Baird told The Register-Guard. “She works really hard. With her achievements and strengths, I know she’ll be very successful.”
Officer Card said that her heart is with those whose loved ones were killed in the massacre, but that she also wants to make the most out of having survived the tragedy.
“I don’t want this to affect me in such a negative way and let it ruin my life,” she explained. “I want to do something with this, [to] show that you can move on, [that] you’re strong.”