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Portland Street Response has responded to a total of 58 calls for service since it was launched in mid-February.

KOIN 6 NEWS PHOTO - Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees Portland Fire & Rescue and its Street Response pilot program, spoke to the media when the program launched Feb. 16. An unarmed force will begin patrolling a larger swath of Portland in order to offer a non-police response to calls regarding homelessness and mental health crises.

After its mid-February launch in the Lents neighborhood, the $4.8 million Portland Street Response pilot program announced it expanded its coverage area on April 1.

"After our first month in service we were able to see areas where we can increase our call load," said Program Manager Robyn Burek.

COURTESY GRAPHIC - A map shows the new coverage area for the fire bureau's Portland Street Response pilot program. The new coverage area is roughly bounded by Southeast Division Street to the north, Clatsop Street to the South, 62nd Avenue to the west and Powell Butte to the east, encompassing more of the Mt. Scott-Arleta and Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhoods.

Additionally, the team will now begin charting its turf using Fire Management Areas rather than police districts, noting in a news release that dispatchers discovered "the team was missing calls tied to police district areas just outside" their coverage area.

The changes will also allow the team to respond to more types of dispatch calls, including non-life threatening, non-emergency medical calls routed through Portland Fire & Rescue, public burning calls involving cooking or warming fires, as well as calls involving a person in the lobby or public area of a business, rather than only incidents happening outside.

The team does not respond to incidents happening within private homes.

"I am so pleased to see that the Portland Street Response pilot is doing exactly what it set out to accomplish: experimenting with different ways to provide service by being nimble and responding to new information," said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who is overseeing the test run. "The city of Portland invested in a pilot so we can create the best system possible and we are using that investment wisely."

City data shows the team hasn't been deluged with calls during the first weeks of its existence.

The team responded to 11 calls in February, 42 in March and five this month as of April 7. Roughly 90% of calls ended without the subject being transported from the scene by an ambulance or other agency. Police co-responded on only one of the total 58 calls so far.

The data shows that 51% of the calls were related to homelessness, 40% were mental health-related and 36% were related to drug and alcohol use.


Zane Sparling
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