AUSTIN (KXAN) — Emergency responders in Austin have announced changes to their operations to protect themselves and those they serve from spreading the coronavirus.

As KXAN reported earlier this week, any person being monitored for symptoms and under a health authority order must give their address, which is passed along to first responders so they can prepare if they are called to respond.

But now, both departments are making changes to their daily systems as the disease continues to spread.

Austin Police Department

APD said Tuesday its changes are based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. It stressed it is not changing how it responds to critical calls where life or safety may be at stake.

“This, in no way, is us stepping away from our duties or our efforts to keep the community safe,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said.

He told KXAN if there was evidence they needed to gather at the scene or that was critical to a call, they will also still respond.

For lower-priority calls, APD is increasing its use of reporting online or over the phone, and will no longer send an officer to those types of calls. APD also will not respond to crashes in which no one is hurt and both cars can be driven.

Police will continue their traffic enforcement for “hazardous violations,” but APD says other enforcement will be up to officers.

Sex offenders who are newly released will still have to be processed and registered. Those who are currently registered and come to APD to check in will have to confirm the information on file for them is accurate and then call to set up an in-person appointment.

APD has also secured the lobby of its headquarters downtown and sub-stations to try to minimize contact. Those in need will still be able to enter. Those who need to obtain copies of a police report can no longer do so in person, but should follow these steps online.

APD is also no longer providing public fingerprinting services.

Manley said it’s too soon to tell, but he thinks changes in the city could lead to a lower crime rate.

“I expect that it will lead, to some extent, to fewer calls this week than what it would be if it were a SXSW week,” Manley said.

Austin Fire Department

When Austin firefighters respond to medical calls, they will be wearing more protective equipment. Normally, they wear eye protection and gloves and carry both an Automatic External Defibrillator and a medical bag. Now they are also adding a mask, gown or Tyveks suit and full goggles.

“We may look a bit different, but our commitment to giving you the excellent service you expect and deserve remains the same,” AFD wrote. “Know that these extra pieces of equipment are out of an abundance of caution so that our personnel remain healthy and ready to respond to all those who may need our help.”

The Austin Fire Department shared photos of its normal and now updated protective equipment (AFD Photo)
The Austin Fire Department shared photos of its normal and now updated protective equipment (AFD Photo)