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Has SXSW Grown Too Big For Austin?
The South by Southwest Music Festival is huge. Last year it brought more than 300,000 music fans to Austin. This year it's expected to be even higher. And it's gotten so big that during the festival Austin-Travis County EMS runs the downtown entertainment district separately from the rest of the city.
They geo fence off the area downtown and basically make it its own little city and manage it with very dedicated resources so that it minimizes the impact it has on the normal 911 calls. The downtown streets are too congested for regular ambulances during SXSW so they bring in smaller more nimble crews: medics on motorcycles, on Polaris Rangers and Gators and on bikes.
But has the festival become too big for Austin? In a word-- no.
ATCEMS says it has the plan and the resources to keep the festival-goers safe, and major events like South by Southwest are widely supported and encouraged. James Hawley with ATCEMS says, "We're fortunate that our department and our city council and all our governments are very supportive of the special events and provide the funding necessary for that."
So as soon as one major event is over, they start planning for the next.
By Fred Cantu