HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – Certain parts of north Hays County could see upwards of 30-minute EMS response times, according to North Hays EMS District Administrator Doug Fowler.

“As the population has increased, the 290 corridor has gotten real busy,” Fowler said. “We’re still able to keep up with our response times in those areas. But north and south up 290, it’s been a struggle.”

Carrie Napiorkowski said it took them 22 minutes to get to her house in Dripping Springs back in 2021. Her friend and contractor fell off the roof.

“I was screaming and crying out loud to the 911 operator, ‘When are they coming? When are they coming?'” Napiorkowski said.

She said it was the longest wait of her life. EMS did not arrive in time. She was giving him CPR and 17 minutes in, he passed away.

photo of Ana Nunez and her family
Napiorkowski said her contractor, Rene, left behind four children and a wife after his death. (Photo: Ana Nunez)

“He was 40 years old. He had four children. He was a genuinely good, good person,” Napiorkowski said.

Why are response times high?

Fowler said it is taking longer to respond because calls are more spread out and more are coming in.

“For the first two months of 2023, we’re seeing a 17% increase over the same time last year,” Fowler said.

Because of that, they are not able to meet national standards.

“Our response time just getting from the station to the scene needs to be nine minutes or less 90% of the time. And we’re closer to 15 minutes,” he said.

But even with an increase in demand, Fowler said there has not been an increase in the current tax rate of $0.0300 per $100 valuation. He said that’s lower than surrounding areas.

EMS taxing entities – Hays, Travis and Comal Counties:

  • Pedernales EMS: $0.0740/$100 valuation
  • Bulverde Spring Branch EMS: $0.0707/$100 valuation
  • Buda EMS: $0.0674/$100 valuation
  • Wimberly EMS: $0.0620/$100 valuation
  • Canyon Lake EMS: $0.0616/$100 valuation
  • Austin-Travis County EMS: $0.0534/$100 valuation
  • Kyle EMS: $0.0505/$100 valuation
  • North Hays EMS: $0.0300/$100 valuation

Fowler said that will not sustain the extra ambulances and stations they need.

“By the end of the decade, we’re going to need to have five ambulances and those locations have to be redistributed,” Fowler said.

A push for more funding

Come this May, voters will decide whether to allow a future tax rate increase vote in November’s election.

“It’s just an authorization. It doesn’t automatically raise taxes, and it takes two elections,” Fowler said.

Napiorkowski said while she understands some may not like the idea of higher taxes, she worries the cost of not increasing it could be another life.

“Life is too precious to be waiting 22 and 27 minutes for ambulance to get to you,” she said.