04/02/2013 05:09 EDT | Updated 06/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Winnipeg paramedics part of pilot project to treat patients who don't need ER

WINNIPEG - A new project in Winnipeg will have paramedics treat patients who don't need to go to hospital emergency rooms.

Reid Douglas, chief of the city's fire-paramedic service, says so-called "community" paramedics will treat injuries on scene or direct or take patients to a clinic.

They will still take them to the ER by ambulance if necessary.

It's a combined undertaking by the city, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the Community Paramedics Program.

The health authority says 30 to 40 per cent of patients in emergency rooms could probably be treated elsewhere.

It is looking to reduce that number to 20 per cent.

"We want to make sure that the people who are the sickest get to the hospital, and those who don't need to go to the emergency room still get the proper health care, but appropriate for their condition," said Douglas.