AUSTIN (KXAN) — An event like South by Southwest brings thousands of people to downtown Austin and additional safety concerns.
The Austin Center for Events, a team comprised of representatives from several city and county agencies, coordinates public safety operations at SXSW from its Central Command Center at One Texas Center, located in the 500 block of Barton Spring Road.
While the SXSW festival reported 20% fewer attendees compared to 2019, there are approximately 333,900 attendees this year, roughly on par with the population of Corpus Christi.
“The need is public safety, not because it’s inherently dangerous, but because when you get a lot of people together it’s important to make sure everybody is communicating and can take care of anything that arises,” said Frank Schaefer, vice president of facilities at SXSW.
Austin-Travis County EMS is also working the festival and is staged in several locations in order to respond quickly in case of an emergency.
ATCEMS said it is using a similar plan to previous years. The plan is designed to prevent disruptions to its 911 call response time by “geo-fencing” the SXSW area. This means calls within that area will be sent to the Command Center and then to staged first responders.
EMS will use motorcycle-riding paramedics and “special response units” to reach calls within the SXSW area. If medics need to move a patient, they will bring them to a “Patient Collection Point,” and then either treat the patient on site or transport them by ambulance to an area hospital.
The SXSW festival runs until March 19.