APD, ATCEMS give safety tips, outline preparations for SXSW

The Austin Police Department and Austin-Travis County EMS are giving safety tips and outlining what first responders are doing to keep everyone safe as crowds come into town for SXSW.

Both agencies say they've been planning for this for months and will have staff both inside and around events.

"We sort of have it down to a science," Capt. Christa Stedman with Austin-Travis County EMS said. 

"As far as our staffing, we do have staffing challenges, however, we are going to utilize every resource that we have available to us to make sure our community is safe during the Spring Festival," Cpl. Destiny Silva with Austin Police Department said.

Lots of traffic is expected, so check online for road closures

"If you plan on traveling to the downtown area, pack your patience. Plan your route. Just expect longer travel times and wait times," Silva said.

Go with a trusted group, get a safe ride, and don't take any substances if you don't know what's in it.

"You should just assume that anything you get off the street is probably going to have some sort of opiate in it," Stedman said.

Stedman says they will have what's like "field hospitals" within the events. They're also setting up extra ambulances, as well as paramedics on what's essentially an ATV that can carry a stretcher.

"We sort of treat it like a city within a city. We geo-fence the location, it's the downtown entertainment district, anything that happens within that geo-fence is handled specifically by our special events medics that are out," she said.

The "What Three Words" app can help pinpoint your location if you need help from first responders.

However, if you don't have it, being aware of your surroundings will help. 

"The next best thing would be to identify landmarks around you. If you're at 6th and Neches, and you can't see the intersection street sign, look for a bar name or some sort of landmark you can relay to the 911 call taker," Stedman said. "We beef up staffing for these events, so it's pretty unlikely that you're going to be somewhere downtown and not see some kind of uniform. Worst case scenario, grab one of them for help."

If there's an ongoing threat, call 911. If it's something that's not ongoing, you can use 311.