Portland Overdose Response Team Team Review

Portland Fire & Rescue’s (PF&R) Community Health Assess & Treat (CHAT) is an innovative first response program that addresses non-emergent medical calls within our response area. In 2021 PF&R created CHAT to properly address the high numbers of low acuity (less critical) medical calls that are negatively impacting the pre-hospital care system. CHAT team members include EMT Basics, Paramedics, Supervisors and Registered Nurses. Two-person teams respond to non-emergent 911 calls and follow protocols to treat community members in the community, provide health education, access to healthcare and social services. A CHAT Follow-Up team reaches out to the community member within 24 hours after the original 911 call to ensure they have service connections they need. CHAT teams work with a wide variety of community partners to get this important work done. 

In partnership with CareOregon, CHAT teams provide an improved service to the community with the goals of reducing unnecessary Emergency Department (ED) visits, improving health literacy, and facilitating access to medical care instead of transporting to an ED. CHAT diverts 45% of their calls away from local hospital ED’s. The CHAT Follow-Up Team reduces additional calls from the 911 system and works one-on-one with clients to gain access to care and improve client knowledge of their disease process. 

To aid in the Fentanyl Crisis, CHAT operates a specialized Overdose Response Team (ORT) in the city core along with piloting an innovative Medication for Opioid Use Disorder program aimed at providing medication assisted treatment for substance use disorder at the time of the 911 call, rather than transporting patients to already crowded ED’s. CHAT 1 focusses their efforts within the city core as this is where many of the overdose responses occur. CHAT 1 operates out of Fire Station 1 and will be dispatched directly to all P23 overdose incidents withing the Station 1 Fire Management Area (FMA) and will add themselves to OD incidents outside the primary FMA if they can access the patient in a timely manner, which they do regularly. Providing access to medication at the time of the 911 call provides the right treatment at the right time for this disease and saves lives by assisting more individuals into treatment programs.

Source: Portland Fire Bureau

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