Portland Street Response, the program that sends medics and mental health clinicians to emergencies in place of police, said it responded to a record number of 911 calls in October.
PSR responded to 824 emergency calls in October, up from just 44 in October 2021.
“Portland Street Response is one of the most innovative and successful new programs in Portland’s history, providing the first major update to our first response system in almost 100 years,” City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said in a statement. “Portland Street Response’s success is inspiring the whole country, and that is something all Portlanders can be proud of.”
Hardesty, who is now seeking reelection in a heated contest, championed the program’s establishment in Lents in February 2021 and its expansion citywide earlier this year.
PSR has more than 50 employees, up from the four they had when the program started. PSR is active from 8 am to 10 pm and aims to operate 24 hours a day by the end of the year, says spokesperson Caryn Brooks.
A PSR data dashboard shows that the program is busiest in the afternoon, with calls peaking around 2 pm. Weekends are less busy than weekdays. Many calls to PSR are made by people who see others in distress, so calls tend to increase when there are more people out and about, Brooks says.
Two-thirds of people being helped by PSR are homeless, and the majority are victims of substance abuse, mental illness, or a combination of those things, the dashboard shows.