Scared or concerned on your ride? Call 911 for Portland Street Response

(Photo: City of Portland)

Did you know that as of last week the non-armed, non-police Portland Street Response (PSR) service is available citywide?

That means if you’re biking around and see someone who needs help, and you don’t want or need to involve the Portland Police Bureau, you can call 911 and request that your call be dispatched to PSR, an official City of Portland program staffed by professionals seven days a week between 8:00 am and 10:00 pm (pending budget approval it will be available 24/7).

PSR is specifically intended to respond to people who are experiencing a non life-threatening mental or behavioral health crisis. According to PSR, “We’re staffed with medical personnel, licensed mental health crisis workers, case managers, and peer support specialists. We’re dispatched as unarmed, trauma-informed first responders for non-life-threatening (but crisis-related) calls.”

The service is confidential, voluntary, and free of charge.

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Here are the criteria the 911 dispatcher will use to route your call to PSR:

A person who is possibly experiencing a mental health crisis; intoxicated and/or drug affected. This person is either outside or inside of a publicly accessible space such as a business, store, public lobby, etc.
A person who is outside and down, not checked.
A person who is outside and yelling.
A person who needs a referral for services, but does not have access to a phone line.
The call meets the previous criteria – AND

There are no weapons seen.
The person is not in traffic/not obstructing traffic.
The person is not violent towards others (physically combative, threatening violence, assaulting).
The person is not suicidal.
The person is not inside of a private residence.

I know that people who ride bikes around our city come face-to-face with many people who need help. Now we have a resource that is much better equipped to handle them than police officers.

Check out the FAQ on the Portland Street Response website for more info.

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Watts
Watts
4 months ago

So, basically call 911 and let them triage and send the appropriate responder. This is exactly how it should work.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
4 months ago

Good to know.

M
M
4 months ago

Pretty sure that if they’re a danger to themselves or others, then per the stated criteria, PPB would still respond.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
4 months ago

And when someone refuses help then what?
This week I was at a Max stop downtown that had a person lying on the ground motionless. 3 Portland Clean and Safe walked up and asked the individual if they needed any assistance. After a short conversation they left as the person refused their assistance and remained motionless on the ground.
Maybe all the person needed was a good meal and sleep, but we’ll never know.
A part of me wants folks to be coaxed (coerced??) into getting help. Another side says if they don’t want help then don’t give it as that’s their choice.
It’s a crazy situation all around.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

If someone doesn’t want help, it shouldn’t be forced upon them, but…

1) If someone is intoxicated, they cannot consent. This seems to raise some liability issues if you just leave them lying on there ground when they don’t have the capacity to deny apparently needed service.

2) My mother collapsed while exiting the library, and got a bloody nose. Someone called 911, and a police officer and an ambulance showed up. By that point, my mother had fully recovered, but the police would not let her leave without a trip to the hospital, which my mother did not want, and repeatedly expressed her refusal. She got a trip to the hospital.

So it’s not always as simple as a person in crisis declining assistance.

The Grouch =)
The Grouch =)
4 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Exactly. There is a very real legal and moral question of whether or not someone strung out and addicted to the latest version of industrial meth or having a serious psychotic episode is really capable of making an informed and rational decision for themselves. Sure, it’s their choice, but is it their higher functions making the call or the voices they hear and/or the meth talking. Will be interesting to see how this all plays out…

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  The Grouch =)

And sadly, we have left the choice to them to pursue treatment – the very people incapable of making a rational decision.

EP
EP
4 months ago

“Scared and Concerned” describes most of my experiences riding the 205 path. Can Street Response just walk the whole thing and help everyone out?

Matt
Matt
4 months ago

Who do I call when I’ve been aggressively blocked and threatened with a hatchet on the Springwater? And yes this has actually happened. It won’t happen again, I stopped riding on it.

Bike guitarist
Bike guitarist
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

PSR will show up and offer them water and a blanket. The Springwater will be safe for no one, like it is now.

The Grouch =)
The Grouch =)
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Waiting for Batman to show up appears to be the City’s solution to violent crime these days.

Matt
Matt
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

A threat of violence was and continues to be a matter for the police. The 911 dispatcher can help you with that.

Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

When seconds count, PPB is hours away, and PSR won’t be responding.

katharine
katharine
4 months ago

I love this. I have called 911 many times on my bike commute when I see someone who needs help and I am so happy to see that there are now actually people who can help, not arrest, that person

Pascual R.
Pascual R.
4 months ago

Scared on your ride? Call 911. Hope they answer. Hope they send the police and not the social workers.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Pascual R.

I tried calling 911 about a dangerous driver and was told to call the non-emergency line, where I sat on hold for 15 minutes before I had to give up and ride away. Great system. I can’t imagine PSR will be any better.

Sorry to throw cold water on your sunny posting, but so many of us have had negative experiences with public-safety responses. They just don’t prioritize issues involving cyclists unless you’re dying on the ground, in which case they send an ambulance.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
4 months ago

Jonathan, are you sure about the “911” part of this? I’ve been following this topic pretty closely, and it’s my understanding that 911 is (still) reserved for urgent, life-and-death type calls… not for a caller who’s “scared” or sees someone who needs “help.” Cases like that should be reported via the police non-emergency line.

tl; dr: PSR may be requested via 911 or the non-emergency line, but the former should be used for emergencies and the latter for everything else.

I may be wrong. But, again, I believe this is the case.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
4 months ago

Got it, thanks. Previous reporting on PSR in the local press has been… not always clear or helpful. Hence my confusion.

PS
PS
4 months ago

So, this group could just go downtown and the bike paths every single day. They don’t need to be called for anything, just go to where the issues are. Based on the checklist above, the vast majority of things I see on the Springwater and 205 path would still garner a police response, which of course won’t come, so I don’t call and just continue with my ride. This is a great solution for the activists to feel good about continuing our gloves off approach to actually solving these issues.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
4 months ago
Reply to  PS

Congratulations on finding a way to react negatively to an overwhelmingly positive story.

PS
PS
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

Being overwhelmed by the “positivity” of this story is exactly everything wrong with this city. Real action is punted in favor of feel good virtue signaling because we don’t want to actually achieve anything material. If you spent 5 minutes reviewing the data on the website for the program you would see how legitimately ineffective this program already is, as 35% of the time they show up and the person the call was made for can’t be found (not surprising when the average response time is north of 20 mins, 10% of the time it takes longer than 42mins for someone to show up), 20% of the time the person refuses all service, and just under 20% of the time they accept some amount of service and then remain where they were. So 75% of the time, nothing is actually being done to solve the issues driving the need for the call in the first place.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
4 months ago
Reply to  PS

As long as a lucrative homeless industrial complex exists, human suffering will continue out there. The “advocates” seem to be the only winners.

JCB
JCB
4 months ago

I thought 911 was for life threatening emergencies (life in danger)? Shouldn’t they be calling the non-emergency number 503-823-3333?

Johaes Spoff
Johaes Spoff
4 months ago

The state of our bike paths is horrible and I have little doubt this will do much to improve them. I’m tired of pretending that trespassing, littering, property damage, vandalism, illegal burning, public urination / defecation, open air drug markets, obviously stolen property, automobiles being driven on MUPs and more are all now classified as “mental health crisises” not what they really are: criminal behavior.

Portland needs law enforcement, not another heaping helping of wishy-washy pandering and enabling. Even the BikePortland comment section has turned against the massive nonprofit grift that has severely damaged our city. It’s time to vote out the abusers and save our city from its terminal decline. This isn’t a COVID thing and it doesn’t have to do with affordability. It’s failed policies of permissiveness and “looking the other way” because you’d rather play word-police than actually acknowledge the real impact on our city. Shameful.

Matt S.
Matt S.
3 months ago

I called 911 a few weeks ago in hopes of having the PSR dispatched, I was on hold for three minutes before I talked to the dispatcher! Three minutes for a line reserved for life threatening emergencies! Good luck out there sandwiched between chain link fences and no escape route when you come up on someone crazy. Be ready to go hands free while waiting on hold with 911. Then be ready for another 20 minutes.