News : Regional Dispatch Contracts New Language Services Provider
Eddy County, NM, USA, July 2, 2015 -- Dispatchers faced with 911 emergency calls from foreign language speakers are getting help with providing emergency response services.
The Regional Emergency Dispatch Authority has contracted with VOIANCE Language Services LLC, a company based in Las Cruces, which will provide translation services for 911 callers when needed.
"We're starting to hear a few more Middle Eastern (callers), though I'm not familiar with all of the dialects. We've had some Chinese, Japanese, German. Still, by far, the majority is Spanish-speaking citizens," said REDA Director Robbie McCormick.
After a few system upgrades, dispatchers at REDA will have access to the language services in August, McCormick said.
It will take 10 to 15 seconds to connect to a translator once it is determined that service is needed, and the response time isn't diminished, McCormick said, because the dispatcher, translator and caller are conferenced in on one line.
The biggest challenge is making callers on the line understand they need to stay on the line while the connection is made to language services.
REDA employs about 18 dispatchers and serves the Artesia police and fire departments, the Eddy County Sheriff's Office and volunteer fire departments. It also acts as backup operators for the Carlsbad police and fire departments.
The call center receives thousands of calls each year. In May it took 2,464 calls and 2,951 in June.
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There are no statistics on the number of callers requiring translation from the previous year, in part because the center's old language services provider did not provide that service, McCormick said. But McCormick said that even with a marked increase in those calls, Spanish continues to dominate the translation needs.
And as summer approaches, McCormick said that the number of 911 calls will rise. McCormick hopes that VOIANCE's practice of hiring foreign-language speakers with previous experience in dispatch will help save lives.
"While an ambulance is en route to a call, we are able to help people perform CPR and take pre-arrival instruction. If they have experience, it goes a lot smoother because they understand what (information) we need first. Their operators are trained to think like we are," McCormick said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Regional Emergency Dispatch Authority:
The Eddy County Regional Dispatch Authority (REDA) provides emergency 911 and non-emergency dispatch services for several local agencies.
About VOIANCE Language Services LLC:
Provider of language translation services.
Published: Friday, July 3, 2015
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