AUSTIN (KXAN) — With South by Southwest upon us, Travis County EMS crews are busy planning and prepping for big shows and large crowds. The 9-day festival kicks off Friday with the interactive and film portions of the event. Organizers are still setting up stages downtown for the live music portion, which gets underway next Tuesday.
“This isn’t something we plan in weeks or even months,” said Commander Mike Benavides with Austin-Travis County EMS. “We started prepping the day after last years festival ended.”
As part of their responsive fleet, the crew has several ambulances and motorcycles on hand. The bikes are a big asset to first responders because they can weave in and out of traffic, ride on sidewalks and get to an emergency faster. They also have multiple SRU’s — smaller vehicles that are able to transport someone on a stretcher to a nearby ambulance.
After last years SXSW deadly crash, when a car plowed through a crowd, killing four people, EMS crews spent a lot of time looking at what they did right and what could improve if something like that should happen again.
“We still reevaluate, see what are the things that we can do better, what are some of the things that we hit right on the mark that we want to be able to repeat, so it’s a constant evaluation,” Benavides said.
Last year, EMS crews treated and transported 25 patients in under 45 minutes. They were able to get the most serious patients transported within 27 minutes.
“Even by industry standards, that exceeds expectations. But we are still learning from every situation,” Benavides said.
EMS crews offer some safety tips for SXSW attendees:
- Keep a charged phone with you at all time
- Know your surroundings; check for street signs so you can tell crews where you are in case of an emergency
- Always carry a piece of identification
- Carry any proper medications with you
- Drink plenty of water