Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service introduces new Voluntary Transport to Drop-In Shelters Protocol to improve safety for at-risk individuals

Winnipeg, MB - Earlier today at City Hall, Mayor Bowman announced that the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS), Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) and three community partner organizations have begun using a new a Voluntary Transport to Drop-In Shelters Protocol to help at-risk individuals stay healthy and safe.

“I want to thank Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, Main Street Project and Salvation Army for working together to better utilize existing resources to better support our at risk residents,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “By collaborating on this protocol change, we have found a simple way to help people get safely to drop-in shelters where they can access food, a safe and warm place to sleep, and can get connected to many different social support services.”

“This new protocol will support those who are currently without housing,” said Helen Clark, Shared Health Provincial Lead, Emergency Response Services. “It will provide safety and shelter for individuals when they need it most, while allowing the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and medical services to be used for their intended purpose – to provide life-saving emergency medical care.”

“This partnership and the Voluntary Transport Protocol is another tool that our Community Homeless Assistance Team (CHAT) can utilize to serve those on the street who need help,” said Downtown Winnipeg BIZ CEO, Stefano Grande. “The health and safety of people in need will be better managed as a result of this overall partnership and we’re thrilled to see it come to fruition.”

“This protocol is an extension of Main Street Project’s longstanding and extensive partnership with WFPS,” said Rick Lees, Executive Director, Main Street Project. “We are highly invested in this voluntary transport protocol and in being a leader in providing quality care to our city’s most vulnerable. Main Street Project recently secured a specialized wheelchair accessible van in support of our own van patrol program, as well as this protocol, through funding provided by Homelessness Partnering Strategy. This specialized van ensures that our community members are transported with dignity, and in a manner that is safe and secure.”

“The Salvation Army is pleased to be working in cooperation with our community partners to serve some of the most vulnerable residents of Winnipeg. While we have been patrolling the streets at night we have seen first-hand the dangerous situations that many people have found themselves in,” said Major Rob Kerr, Divisional Secretary for Public Relations and Development. “This efficient use of resources will benefit all of the people we serve.”

The new Voluntary Transport to Drop-In Shelters Protocol works as follows: 

  • The WFPS 911 Communication Centre receives a call from a patient or a member of the public and dispatches the appropriate Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and/or Fire resource(s) based on information provided by the caller. Upon arrival, WFPS paramedics or firefighter-paramedics perform a detailed assessment, initiate treatment if required and offer the patient transportation to a hospital.
  • If the patient accepts EMS transport to a hospital, the person will be brought to the most appropriate medical facility.
  • If the patient refuses transport to a hospital and meets the WFPS criteria for refusal of treatment and transport, WFPS personnel can use the Voluntary Transport to Drop-In Shelters Protocol. The protocol provides WFPS paramedics or firefighter-paramedics with the option to recommend to the patient that they be transported to a local drop-in shelter. 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. 
  • If the patient agrees to be transported to a drop-in shelter, WFPS personnel will contact the WFPS 911 Communications Centre to arrange transportation of the patient via one of three community partners: Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, Main Street Project and The Salvation Army. 
  • WFPS 911 Communications Centre staff will determine which community partner to contact based on availability and the location of a patient. Mobility of the patient will also be considered to accommodate patients that need wheelchair accessible transportation. 
  • WFPS personnel will remain with the patient until the community partner arrives on scene and transports the patient.

The new protocol was made available to paramedics and firefighter-paramedics on January 24, 2018.  As of Monday, March 19, transportation has been provided to 22 individuals. 

For more information on the community partners participating in the new Voluntary Transport to Drop-In Shelters Protocol, please visit: 

  • Downtown Winnipeg BIZ 
  • Main Street Project 
  • The Salvation Army 


Paramedics and firefighter-paramedics care for their patients under regulations set out in The Emergency Medical Response and Stretcher Transportation Act. Under this Legislation, paramedics and firefighter-paramedics offer transportation to hospital in an ambulance. If a patient is capable of making an informed decision they can refuse the services of the WFPS, but on occasion these patients may have other social needs that may place them at-risk, such as lack of shelter, clothing, or food.

The new Voluntary Transport to Drop-In Shelters Protocol provides paramedics and firefighter-paramedics with a new option to partner with community agencies to collaboratively meet the needs of individuals who do not require transport to the hospital. Thereby improving the health and safety for these patients through access to food, shelter and social service supports.