HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — An excruciating 20 minutes is how long some people in northern Hays County have waited for paramedics. One of those people was Carrie Napiorkowski.

“I was screaming, crying. I knew that he was dying,” Napiorkowski said.

Her contractor had fallen off her roof.

“During that time period I was personally giving CPR to my friend,” Napiorkowski said.

She said help didn’t come fast enough. North Hays EMS arrived but couldn’t save him.

“He’s a very, very good man, and he was our friend. And he’s 40 years old and has four kids,” Napiorkowski said.

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

The reason it took so long? She said the ambulance closest to her house was on a call further away.

“So, we had to get a call from downtown Dripping, and they got caught in traffic,” Napiorkowski said.

It’s a situation that’s happening more often.

“With all the growth that’s going on, we’re now seeing our calls throughout the entire 244-square-mile area,” said Doug Fowler, North Hays EMS district administrator.

Fowler said calls are more spread out and more are coming in.

“It’s up 23% year-over-year from ’21 to ’22,” Fowler said.

That’s impacting response times.

“Our goal is to get an ambulance on scene 90% of the time. We’re currently only doing that 65% of the time,” Fowler said.

He said growth in the area isn’t helping.

“With the added population and the congestion and growth, it’s going to be a constant battle to stay on top,” Fowler said.

Napiorkowski is left remembering a friend who died in her arms, hoping others don’t go through the same tragedy.

“That is the best thing that can be done with his legacy is to prevent this from happening to anybody else,” Napiorkowski said.

North Hays EMS will start using a new ambulance next week. That’ll be a total of four. Fowler said ideally, they need five and two new stations.

But he said that likely won’t happen until the end of the decade because of a lack of funding and rising costs.