AUSTIN, Texas — A staging area has been created for first responders in Downtown Austin's Sixth Street entertainment district.
The City of Austin has already added additional lighting in the Sixth Street area. And according to a recent memo sent to Austin City Council members by Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon, an area has been created in the 600 block of Neches Street, where first responders can stage personnel and/or equipment.
The memo states that Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) is also working on getting new equipment to help provide patient care quickly.
Kevin Parker, the ATCEMS commander for special events, said this will help with faster response times if an emergency happens.
"Right now, it's reserved Thursday, Friday, Saturday evenings from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., and we can begin using it if it's needed," Parker said.
It's located near the same area where one man died and 13 others were injured in a mass shooting on Sixth Street on June 12, 2021. There was another shooting near the same area more recently where four people were injured on March 20.
"We've begun the initial data work to figure out when do we need to pre-staged resources here," Parker said.
Parker said people remember shootings more, but ATCEMS responds to many different emergencies more often. That's why they already have paramedics in the area every Friday and Saturday on Sixth Street.
"Having those advanced life support paramedics is vital, and that's the step that we've already taken. Then we will just layer on top of that to bring in those additional resources," Parker said.
The additional resources needed are more equipment and Special Response Units, or SRUs. However, Parker said, like many others, ATCEMS is dealing with supply chain issues.
"It won't be a light switch that is off and then it's suddenly on. It will be a layered approach in which we build upon the things that we have already done. And, most importantly, we adjust when we learn that things that we thought would work are not working," Parker said.
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