EMS opens downtown intake station for South by Southwest patients

Austin-Travis County EMS expects to have their hands full this weekend.

It's Saint Patrick's Day, and South by Southwest.
“I love the unique experiences and the chance to see my friends every single year from all around the world,” Wesley Faulkner, attendee, said.

Mix the two together and what do you get? Lots of tourists and possibly some sick people.

To handle the load, Austin/Travis County EMS has a patient collection point smack dab in the middle of downtown.

“We have two demand ambulances that are able to take people to the hospital, we have three Polaris Rangers which are smaller vehicles which allow us to get through crowds easier,” Kevin Parker, commander, said.

On Tuesday, they had 18 people check in for evaluation. Wednesday, they had 25, and even transported five to the hospital. This station will serve all in the downtown area north of the river. So if someone calls 9-1-1 and needs to be evaluated, they deploy one of the medics from this tent and bring them there.

“It helps us keep the 9-1-1 system ambulances available for their calls in their districts,” Parker said.

“I thought it was awesome. I saw the barricades and I saw them making the station, especially what happened with the drunk driver,” Faulkner said.

He's talking about the 2014 incident with Rashad Owens who was convicted of running over four people at that year's South by Southwest. That incident proved, EMS needs to be ready for anything.

“Good to know they're there, in case anybody needs it,” Landis McKnight, bartender, said.

The two ambulances on site can take multiple people to the hospital at the same time, if a patient is not acutely (urgently) ill. The station will be open each day from 3:00 pm to 3:00 am through the days of the festival. 

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