If you or a loved one has ever needed medical attention, you understand how important it is to communicate precise information about the situation. In some cases, misunderstandings could be a matter of life or death. Emergencies happen constantly, and we depend heavily on our 9-1-1 operators in the United States to get us the urgent help we need. What happens if you don’t speak the English language when you need to dial 9-1-1, and how would you get assistance from a certified interpreter?
In the United States, 9-1-1 operators are trained to handle inbound callers that might not speak English. It’s suggested that non-English speakers be able to specify in English which language they speak. This way, an operator will be able to get the correct language speaker on the line. Although a 9-1-1 operator may speak the language of the caller, it’s required that a certified interpreter joins the call to ensure accuracy. Once the 9-1-1 operator is able to determine which language the caller speaks, the certified interpreter will be connected the call in a matter of moments.
Interpreters that are connected to these emergency lines have gone through demanding testing to achieve this level of certification. They are able to rapidly receive information in chaotic situations, and then deliver it accurately back to the 9-1-1 operator. Because of this, we can feel confident that our loved ones will always get the assistance they need.
Are you concerned that your limited English or second language speaker in your home will encounter an emergency and may not know how to communicate in English? Here are some general tips to ensure they’ll be able to react while you’re away:
Learn a basic phrase: As previously stated, it helps the 9-1-1 operator to know which language the caller speaks. Have the limited English or second language person learn a basic phrase to utilize should an emergency arise, and then periodically practice it.
Written phrases: Place a note card with a common phrase or two of what to say once they’ve dialed 9-1-1 in a central location as a reference.
For other situations that may not be a 9-1-1 emergency, having a practical and convenient way to connect to a live interpreter will reduce stress and put a non-English speaker at ease. Telelanguage provides a free to download app for iPhone that’ll connect your loved one to an interpreter in a matter of seconds. With 4,000+ interpreters expert in over 300 languages, Telelanguage is ready to speak your language 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, wherever you are.
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