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Man who owns home in Lakes Region and runs casinos in Vegas tells how the city changed overnight

New Hampshire Sunday News

October 07. 2017 7:54PM
Clark Dumont, who has ties to NH and is now an executive at MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas, stops at a new healing garden built on the Las Vegas strip to remember the victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting massacre. (Anne Dumont)

"It's been a long week," Clark Dumont admitted Friday in a phone call from Las Vegas.

That's where a gunman opened fire from an upper-floor hotel room last Sunday night, raining death and terror down on a crowd of 20,000 gathered for an outdoor country music festival.

Dumont is senior vice president and chief of staff for the chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International. The company operates 14 resorts and casinos in Las Vegas - including Mandalay Bay. That's where Stephen Paddock rented a suite and opened fire on the crowd below, killing 58 and injuring nearly 500 others before killing himself.

Dumont is a familiar face in New Hampshire. He previously worked for Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield and BAE Systems, and was active in philanthropic organizations here.

He and his wife, Anne, moved to Las Vegas in 2011 for the job with MGM Resorts, but they maintain a home in the Lakes Region.

In the past week, Dumont has heard from colleagues all over the world, including friends and former co-workers in New Hampshire. "There are people who care, and it may be 2,500 miles away, but in this day and age, we're all right next door to each other," he said.

Dumont said he awakened around 1 a.m. last Monday and for some reason checked his phone. There was an internal alert from MGM "that there was an incident at Mandalay Bay and at the festival lot, which is across the street," he said.

Dumont is vice chairman of the board for the local Red Cross chapter. As the news on TV grew increasingly horrific, he started contacting Red Cross leadership to mobilize resources for blood donations.

MGM's Mirage resort had hosted a blood drive just days earlier and Dumont had donated blood. A Red Cross official later told him his blood was likely used for victims of the massacre.

It was a reminder, he said, of "the importance of giving the gift of life, because you never know."

It's been a rough month for the Red Cross, Dumont said, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. The head of the southern Nevada organization had just returned from helping out in Texas, so the agency deployed a team from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas to handle the new crisis.

The Red Cross, Dumont said, sent experienced teams who have responded to mass casualty incidents before, in Orlando, Newtown and Boston.

Dumont also reached out to the University of Las Vegas' School of Urban Affairs, where he serves on the dean's advisory council. The school offers counseling degrees, and Dumont sought their help in finding trauma counselors for MGM guests and families and friends of victims.

In the first days after the massacre, Dumont said, security at MGM resorts and other Vegas venues was "definitely escalated."

Resorts were checking car trunks and "wanding guests," Dumont said, and other security measures were heightened.

In recent days, Dumont said, Las Vegas is beginning to regain a sense of normalcy, but there are reminders everywhere of the tragedy. All over the Strip, marquees that usually advertise shows now offer messages of support for victims and gratitude to first responders, and information about blood drives and counseling.

"What you're seeing is this tremendous solidarity across the community," he said.

Dumont noted 43 million people visit Las Vegas every year, and 6 million are business travelers attending conferences and conventions. Civic leaders are already hearing from convention organizers, vowing that what happened won't change their plans, he said.

Friday night, the Dumonts stopped by a new "healing garden" constructed along the Strip.

There are 58 trees, one for each victim, and a wall where loved ones can post photos and memories of those lost. It's a beautiful place, he said, "serene and contemplative."

In the wake of the tragedy, Dumont said he's focusing on "the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity and to overcome evil, and to take care of each other."

"It's the random acts of kindness," he said.

On Thursday, Dumont attended the inaugural meeting of a new "VOAD" group (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) that will oversee family assistance and counseling services in the weeks and months to come. "This is a marathon now," he said.

The final stage of dealing with any crisis is recovery, Dumont said. And for those who lost loved ones or were injured in last Sunday's massacre, "that recovery is going to be long-term."

"We've all got to be there for them, and not forget," he said.

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