COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - Whether it's shootings, fires, or crashes, seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Now, a new $10 million project is promising to cut emergency response times from 40 minutes in some cases to just five.
Work is underway on a public safety center at mile marker 63 along Alligator Alley, which is about halfway between Naples and Miami.
Last year alone, the Ochopee Fire District responded to more than 250 crashes on Alligator Alley. When there's a crash, night or day, the reality is emergency crews are likely more than 30 minutes away.
Everyday, thousands of people travel across Florida on Alligator Alley and it's up to the Ochopee Fire District to cover a 35 mile stretch of the highway.
"Currently our response times average anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes," says Fire Chief Alan McLaughlin.
Chief McLaughlin says the bulk of emergency calls last year were within 8-10 miles of mile marker 63. The spot of a new $10 million rest area and fire station funded by the Florida Department of Transportation.
"That's going to reduce our response times down to anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes on average," says McLaughlin.
Earlier this year, an Immokalee mother and her two daughters were killed on the alley, when their car crashed into a canal. McLaughlin says, in that case, the new emergency station could have made a big difference that day.
"It was a 35 minute response before we could even render care or administer anything and get them evaluated and get them in the air to the trauma center," says Chief McLaughlin.
The county is still working with the state to iron out the operational costs of the new fire station in terms of who is paying for staffing personnel and trucks.
Construction is set to be complete in fall of 2014.