AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — The thousands of protesters marching downtown kept first responders busy in another way: Austin-Travis County EMS says for the first time in two weeks since protests began, they had to deploy their ambulance bus during the march.
They say it was in response to the heat-related calls they were receiving Sunday afternoon.
“I’m sweating from my toes all the way up,” says 10-year-old protester Landon Wallace.
That was the case for many people attending the Austin Justice Coalition’s Rally and March for Black Lives.
Some, like Bridgette Batch, were prepared for the temperatures pushing 100 degrees.
“I have water and tried to dress in airy clothes,” Batch says.
Others were not.
“I brought one water bottle but definitely that wasn’t enough,” says Sophia Bustos.
Those people say they are grateful for organizers who set up hydrating stations along the march route.
“I didn’t come prepared but other people did and they’ve been nice enough to share,” says Alek Seiwisekl.
Volunteers say besides handing out water, food and fans, they were also keeping an eye out for signs of heat distress.
“I know there are some folks also who are kind of moderating the crowd to look out for folks who might be in vulnerable positions or experiencing some kind of heat stroke,” says protester and Austin Justice Coalition volunteer Lynn Cowles.
Austin-Travis County EMS says the high temperatures were a major focus for them Sunday afternoon, telling KXAN that a majority of incidents that they responded to have been “medical in nature and heat-related.”
With the temperatures only expected to rise over the next few days, many say it won’t stop them from coming out, day after day.
“There’s people that are dealing with this heat constantly and not just literally but metaphorically, we’re here to bring the heat,” says protester Andres Perez. “So it’s not enough to stop us.”
ATCEMS says they are still exercising COVID-19 safety precautions. Medics are utilizing PPE and in addition to normal triage procedures, screening patients for COVID-19.