Residents in one west St. Louis neighborhood are worried about a new street blockade after they say it has slowed emergency response time.
Gwen Cogshell lives in the 5200 block of Maple in the Academy neighborhood. She says when her mother had a heart attack Wednesday morning, she worried about the ambulance arriving in time.
“Every second matters, every second matters,” said Cogshell.
The ambulance made it to the home, but another responding fire trick was blocked by a newly installed pole at Maple and Clarendon. The pole is removable with a key.
“When I said why didn't you use the key, [the fire department] said they didn't have a key,” said Cogshell.
Cogshell said the pole was installed about a month ago to replace an older planter style blockade. The neighborhood's alderman reportedly told residents the pole would make it easier for first responders to get through blocked streets.
“We don't have a key, this is definitely a work in progress," said Capt. Garon Modby, spokesperson for the St. Louis Fire Department.
Removable or not, Capt. Mosby says first responders and dispatchers communicate to maneuver around the city's many blocked streets.
“The dispatcher would tell the dispatch units you're in the 5100 block of maple, the cross streets are Academy and Clarendon, enter on Academy," said Capt. Mosby.
But sometimes that doesn't happen.
“A young man suffered from a heart attack two weeks ago, and the ambulance came down that same street," said Cogshell. "The ambulance and the fire truck had to turn around. That young man died at his house."
Capt. Mosby says he couldn't speak to that incident since he didn't have the information on the response time but says whether barriers are removable or not, its their job to manage around them.
“On average we're talking four minutes from our fire house to your emergency,” he said.
But he admits, sometimes responders get caught on a blocked street.
“On occasion, mistakes are made, on a street like this, this is a very long block, you get to the end of the block and you realize you're blocked in,” he explained.
Calls to Alderman Frank Williamson who authorized the new blockades went unanswered. News 4 is working to determine if these lock and key barricades could be coming to other neighborhoods in the city.
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