PHOENIX (KSAZ) - When someone calls 911 in the Norterra community in North Phoenix, they wait, on average, nearly three times longer for help than those in other parts of the city.
People there are now calling on city leaders to build a new fire station near I-17 and Jomax, saying public safety in the area is at risk.
The Phoenix Fire Department says they have had plans to build Station 55 for the past 15 years, but with the recession, funding disappeared. Now, after community outcry and the realization that response times are nearly 3 times the average, they're finally getting a new station built.
"Excruciating to see him struggling, and me not knowing what to do," said Tammy Salyers.
Salyers lives near Dove Valley and I-17. Earlier this year, shes called 911 after her husband suddenly collapsed.
Salyers said it felt like she waited abnormally long for help. By the time emergency crews arrived, her husband had stopped breathing.
He died at the hospital.
"It's the middle of night," said Salyers. "You just celebrated your anniversary, and your husband is laying on the floor, dying in front of your eyes."
Phoenix Fire said the response time on her call was nine minutes. Meanwhile, the response to a playground fire a week ago was 13 minutes.
The average response time in Phoenix is between four and five minutes.
"Now we have all that growth, all that infrastructure is in there, this summer we had a few calls that were on our radar that were unacceptable response times," said Captain Rob McDade with the Phoenix Fire Department.
Plans to build the new Fire Station 55 off Jomax and I-17 were set in 2006, but were shelved during the recession.
"It always comes back to funding, but peoples lives are at stake in this case," said Salyers.
A temporary fire station is in the works for the area, until the new station is built.
"We will have a temporary fire station manned with four firefighters, and an ALS truck to provide those services to make sure those response times are shorter," said Capt. McDade.
Phoenix Fire officials said their temporary solution will go into effect next month, and the new station will be built in two years.