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ATCEMS sees fewer incidents, patients during SXSW

First responders set up a makeshift field hospital in Downtown Austin in an effort to treat patients faster.

AUSTIN, Texas — South by Southwest is on its last leg, and Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) first responders have been on the ground to make sure it finishes on a safe note.

March 18 was the final night ATCEMS navigated through the downtown area to respond to incidents and treat patients as part of its efforts to reduce response times.

It's part of the agency's annual safety plan where medics set up camp in the downtown area and create what they call a "city within a city."

"We've been able to prevent any of the outside EMS resources, the ambulances that normally respond to 911 and all the areas around downtown … prevented them from having to respond down to this area," EMS Cpt. Darren Noak said. 

Noak said compared to 2022's spring festival, ATCEMS saw fewer patients and incidents this year.

In 2022, the department responded to 84 incidents, treated 74 patients and had 20 transports. In 2023, so far, the department responded to 59 incidents, treated 53 patients and had 20 transports, according to Noak.

Noak noted ATCEMS will go over Saturday's responses and release it on Sunday. 

"The overall structure of what we have in place with our partners and everybody here is it's something that works very well in this environment," Noak said. "You can see with the crowd volume, pedestrian traffic, and you can imagine later on to the pedestrian traffic increasing and vehicular traffic around the area, you just can't get a big ambulance or fire truck around to respond efficiently to those calls that occur in the area."

Noak said ATCEMS has been able to utilize the special response units and other resources over the years in order for them to work more efficiently in the field and in the case of a larger incident.

"We already have all of the roles that are needed in a mass casualty incident in place here on scene already, along with having the event operations center up and running," Noak said.

ATCEMS will begin planning for next year's SXSW and spring festival as soon as this year's wraps up to go over all the negatives and positives and look for further improvements where it's needed.

Kelsey Sanchez on social media: Facebook | Twitter  

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