People without homes who are seen by paramedics and firefighter paramedics in Winnipeg and don’t want to go to hospital may be able to get a lift somewhere more appropriate, thanks to a change in protocol announced Tuesday.

The ‘voluntary transport to drop-in shelters protocol’ will allow emergency responders, working with partner shelters, to direct people who have been assessed after a call to emergency to a drop-in shelter instead of hospital. That way they can receive help for non-medical needs, such as shelter, food or clothing.

In a news release, the city said, “The protocol will be used in circumstances where WFPS paramedics or firefighter-paramedics feel the patient may be at risk due to safety concerns, general lack of wellbeing, or weather conditions.”

The protocol sees paramedics stay with the person until staff with an available partner organization is able to pick them up to go to a drop-in shelter.

So far, three community organizations, the Downtown Winnipeg Biz, Main Street Project and The Salvation Army, are taking part.

The city said the process has already been in use since Jan. 24, 2018, and in that time, 22 people have been transported to shelters under the protocol.