Deputy fire chief on the future of Portland Street Response

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s been almost three years since Portland Street Response (PSR) launched. The program sends a mental health counselor and paramedic to certain 911 calls instead of police.

In December of last year, PSR responded to about 850 calls, with a 2023 monthly peak of about 1,270 calls in August.

The pilot program started in the Lents neighborhood of Southeast Portland in February 2021 and expanded citywide in March 2022.

It was conceived under former Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who was in charge of Portland Fire & Rescue at the time. This is also where the administration of Portland Street Response now resides.

Additionally, PSR has been popular with the public. Last summer, about 10,000 people signed the “Friends of Portland Street Response” petition to the mayor, asking the city to save and adequately fund the program.

But is the program working? And does it have enough support from city leadership to keep it going?

Stephenie Sullivan, Deputy Portland fire chief and head of the bureau’s Medical Services & Training Division addressed these questions and more as this week’s guest on Eye on Northwest Politics.

View the conversation in 2 parts — Part 1 in the player above, Part 2 in the player below

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