Medical technology helps break language barrier - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Medical technology helps break language barrier

December 8, 2005

Valdosta - When paramedics respond to a call, every second counts.  They need to find out what's wrong with a patient fast in order to treat them properly, but here in South Georgia, they often run into language barriers. "Especially in the rural areas of the community with the Hispanic population," said David Bauch, Paramedic.

Now there's a solution.  First responders at South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta are using what's called an "Interpreter in a Box" to communicate with patients who can't speak English. "You simply dial into a cell phone, they ask what language and they put the appropriate interpreter on the line," said Bauch.

The technology can provide translation services in more than 70 different languages. Before they installed this device, first responders relied on translators at the scene to communicate with a patient. But that wasn't always possible.  "A lot of times if they're in a car wreck or by themselves, there's nobody to interpret that's bilingual," said Bauch.

Not being able to communicate with the patient posed a threat of giving them the wrong medications, or treating them incorrectly. "If they're allergic to some medicine and we're not aware of it, we may give them something and it could cause a reaction that could be life threatening," said Bauch.

But thanks to this device, they can get the vital information they need to save a life within minutes.

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