Are ambulances putting people’s lives at risk in University City?

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UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KTVI) – University City City Council member Paulette Carr has questioned the city’s new ambulance service, Gateway Ambulance, from day one.

“We ought to feel comfortable knowing that we are getting the kind of service that we always had,” Carr said.

U-City outsourced its emergency medical services to Gateway Ambulance last August. It took over for the firefighters. Since then, Carr said it’s been one red flag after another, from longer response times to service that, according to her, violates the contract agreement.

"I received a call in September where one of my constituents had a cardiac event—a heart event—and it took 15 minutes for the ambulance to arrive,” Carr said. “On the 13th of December, we had at least two ambulances show up, at least two show up, without any paramedics on board.”

For her, that’s a big deal; not only because it could be putting people’s lives in danger, but it would violates the terms of their contract.

“Our contract says they must have one paramedic, one EMT,” Carr said.

For months, she’s asked City Manager Lehman Walker to supply reports. Thus far, Carr has not been given the reports she’s asked for, which she feels is lack of oversight and lack of action on Walker’s part.

“We pay a lot in taxes. We deserve this service,” said Carr. “He decided to provide a lesser service to us. We previously had two paramedics on every ambulance instead of just one and an EMT, and now he's allowing a company to provide even less.”

According to Carr, Gateway Ambulance collects a minimum of $700,000 to $750,000 in revenues from University City.

When contacted for an interview, Walker said he didn't have time to meet outside office hours for an on-camera interview. He said response times have improved by one minute to three-and-a-half minutes since Gateway took over for the fire department, the city is satisfied with their services, and that they are complying with the contract.

However, Carr isn’t buying any of it until she sees the facts.

“Something went wrong. It's not working the way that they promised. We would have our EMS service delivered and this is a cover-up to not provide the information, at least not to provide a response to me, is a cover-up,” said Carr.

Fox 2 News left messages with Gateway Ambulance, but did not hear back before this report was filed Thursday evening.