ODC Central Dispatch uses translation services to provide a quick response to residents who are not fluent in English
The Owensboro-Daviess County Central Dispatcher is tasked every day with helping community members through life-changing situations. To ensure that every resident can receive equal help, the dispatch center spends about $200 per month on translation services for non-fluent English speakers.
Paul Nave, director of the ODC Central Dispatch, said they were using different channels to help communicate and learn about the situation as quickly as possible.
“What’s really important to understand is that in an emergency, people will always revert to the native language because it’s an instinct that’s comfortable,” Nave said.
Through language learning and telelanguage, dispatchers have a third person online to help translate all communications coming from the customer.
Together, the two agencies cover 150 different languages.
If a customer is unable to make a phone call, a text hotline is also available. Every text from customer to ODC dispatch center will be translated from customer’s language to English, and response will be translated back.
Nave said that in 2021 alone, the dispatch center communicated nearly 2,500 minutes in a myriad of languages other than English.
They mainly saw Spanish, Rohingya (a language native to Myanmar) and Somali (a language from East Africa).
Although the response process is slowed down a bit to ensure correct translation, Nave said it was not a significant time difference.
“We take this very seriously because I don’t care where you’re from or what language because ER doesn’t care,” Nave said. “An emergency is an emergency, and if you’re traveling through here or living here, my job is to help you.”
While the translator is usually on the phone for the dispatch interaction, he said if a responder needs a translator for any instance, they can provide one.
And while Nave said translators are helpful, he wishes staff members were equipped to speak other languages as well.
In the meantime, they will continue to use the systems in place to provide adequate service to the community.