Austin EMS considers mobile clinic for overwhelming 911 calls

Incidents in a specific downtown area are sapping responders’ resources: officials are exploring alternative ways to address those in need

AUSTIN, Texas — 911 calls from a specific area of downtown Austin have been overwhelming EMS and fire crews.

The Austin Fire Department is looking for a solution to free up resources after calls that average about seven per day from a block of 7th Street and Red River has put a strain on the agency. Between 2013 and 2014, the department responded to 2,625 incidents, MyFoxAustin reports. 

Authorities say many calls are in that area are not actual emergencies, and said the nearby Arch Homeless Shelter may be a contributing factor.

"The landscape of EMS is changing, and finding resources to connect with people who are otherwise falling through the cracks of health care is very much what our job is these days," said James Shamard with Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services. "The people aren't calling EMS because they don't have a need; they have some kind of need that's not being fulfilled.”

Incidents range from generalized sickness, to headache, overdose, stroke and death. Most of the calls come in between 5 p.m.and 6 p.m.

"We're actively working with Central Health to talk about do we need some type of mobile clinic or some other resource in that area, looking at how that clinic is used that is in the arch," Shamard said.

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