Emergencies happen in all languages - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Emergencies happen in all languages

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  When a Hispanic teenager was shot in East Albany this week, the call for help came from a Non-English speaking man. He dialed 911, but couldn't explain his emergency. And that's where Albany's 911 Translation Center came in.

The Albany 911 center says it handles an average eight calls a month from people who can't speak English, but they say they are seeing an increase in the number of those emergency calls.

To handle them, the Albany operator calls Language Line Service, a private AT&T service that has translators standing by, and they help the operator dispatch the emergency help they need

"They're upset. They can't tell us everything they really want to.  If they are speaking a foreign language, then certainly we have to do everything we can do to try to help the individual out," said Albany 911 Communications Manager Charlotte Floyd.

The Albany 911 center has had this translation service for more than 10 years, and can translate more than 100 languages.  But as more non English speaking people move into the community, the more vital it's use becomes.

First responders call also use the Language Live Service while on call.  They can call the 911 center, and be hooked up with a translator so that they can communicate with a non English speaking person through the phone.

Officials say it is an important way to make sure non English speaking people know they can always receive emergency help at any time. 

The Language Line Service is also a cost saver, charging two dollars and twenty cents a minute for use.

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