Portland Fire to begin Alternative OD Response in Downtown Core

Press Release
Portland Fire to begin Alternative OD Response in Downtown Core

CHAT team members arrive on scene of a 9-1-1 call.

Portland Fire & Rescue will begin an Alternative Overdose Response protocol in the downtown core beginning on January 16,2024 using a 2-person Community Health Assess and Treat (CHAT) response vehicle responding out of Station 1 located in Old Town. PF&R has responded to nearly 7000 Overdose Calls in 2023 with 1/3 of those from Station 1 that serves a portion of the downtown core. Each response to a potential overdose call commits a highly specialized emergency apparatus to a street level prehospital care medical call preventing the ability to add this unit to a more suitable emergency reducing the response reliability of both the apparatus and Portland Fire & Rescue as a whole. With a focus on a more efficient use of the resources and addressing the response reliability within Portland Fire & Rescue, a different response will be put into service that will improve our efficiency.

CHAT 1, staffed by an EMT Paramedic and an EMT Basic, will be in service from 0800-1800 Monday through Thursday and will be dispatched by BOEC/911 to all Protocol 23 overdose call types within the downtown core along with other low acuity call types where this apparatus already responds. If an overdose call comes in while CHAT 1 is already dispatched to a low acuity call type, they will divert to the overdose while requesting a different CHAT unit address the low acuity emergency. 

This pilot program is scheduled to operate for a 6-month period with evaluations of the program performed at 30-60-90-day intervals. The metrics used in these evaluations will be data on diversions of an ambulance use and transport to the emergency room, percentages of patients treated and released, and the frequency of a need to upgrade the call to add more responders to the emergency scene.