Austin Travis County EMS mobilizes to ensure speedy response at SXSW


Medics with the Austin Travis County EMS have had a busy week responding to hundreds of calls. 

So far, they’ve responded to more than 120 calls and they only expect that number to go up since today marks the last Saturday of SXSW and St. Patrick’s Day.

And, with the popular festival ending Sunday thousands of people from all over are taking it all in. 

But, with the influx of people the city sees every year during SXSW, ATCEMS says the goal is making sure those in need of medical attention in the crowded area receive it.

“The spring break festival season presents a challenge because it’s in the downtown area, it’s a very large footprint,” said Wesley Hopkins, ATCEMS division chief. “So we have to do some different things to access patients.”

They do this by creating what they call, “a city within a city,” said Capt. Darren Noak with ATCEMS. 

They cover several blocks of downtown including 6th Street, Rainey Street and other streets, by using various resources and setting up on 5th Street and Congress Avenue. 

“We have our own ambulance system here basically that consists of three of our SRUs, two ambulances, and two motorcycles,” Noak said. 

They also work with a couple of doctors to have them on hand to take off when needed.

“So [we] run medical patients that are exacerbated by the elements, the heat, it’s been hot the last few days and also patients that overindulge in alcohol,” said Hopkins. “We run the gamut down here.”

Last year, ATCEMS responded to 147 calls — assisting 82 patients with 54 of them going to the hospital.

Hopkins says planning for SXSW is a big task and preparation for next year’s festival will begin this Monday. 

“As we get into the weekend we might surge up more Polaris rangers, or foot medics or motorcycle medics for next year,” said Hopkins. 

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