EMS responders bring in extra crews for SXSW


by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT McKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE


Posted on March 15, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 15 at 6:22 PM

AUSTIN -- Emergency responders are working overtime this week with extra crews in downtown Austin for South by Southwest.

EMS crews are posted up on San Jacinto between Fifth and Sixth Streets, ready to respond to any emergency within seconds. It's been just a few days into the music portion of SXSW, yet responders say they have seen it all.

"Everybody here is just here to have a good time," said Larbi Kandil, in town for SXSW.

That's why EMS responders are onsite hoping to keep it that way.

Austin-Travis County EMS says they've responded to more than 70 SXSW-related incidents since Wednesday afternoon, most of them were alcohol-related.

"Someone a few people in front of me passed out and they rushed over and took care of him," SXSW attendee Haley Elander said.

"Somebody was just rocking out too hard and got exhausted and they called the ambulance and everything," Kandil said.

Responders say most incidents are minor cuts, scrapes and sprained ankles. But crews also responded to a DWI crash this week and on Thursday a bicyclist hit a pedestrian and knocked her unconscious.

"We expect tonight to be a little busier and throughout the weekend until Sunday, the final day," said Celeste Montilvo with Austin-Travis County EMS.

The responders have an ambulance that can hold up to 20 people. They also have motorcycles and four-wheel gators that help crews move through the large crowds of festival-goers.

With so many people visiting Austin this week, EMS responders say one of the biggest challenges is when people call for help and they do not know where they are.

"Maybe look and see what street you're on or if there's a restaurant or something," Montilvo said. "That way if you do call 911 we know where you are more or less."

Their advice? Pay attention. Whether you're making your way through the crowd on foot, on a bike, or in a car, pay attention so that your SXSW experience doesn't end in an ambulance.

EMS crews will be downtown until at least 3:00 a.m.

Stay up to date on KVUE's SXSW coverage on your mobile device with our free "KVUE News" mobile app. You can also see more SXSW stories and slideshows on KVUE.com here.