INDIANA – The Indiana State Board of 911, in conjunction with INdigital and the Office of the State Treasurer, announces another tool that improves communications between non-English speaking citizens and emergency services.
As of 2019, dispatchers at all Indiana Public Safety response points have had access to the “Language Line,” which provides voice translation services to 911 callers. Over the past three years, carriers in Indiana have used voice translation services for nearly 70 of the more than 250 languages available. Spanish is the most frequently translated language used, accounting for 91% of translation calls. Marion, Elkhart, Allen, White and Tippecanoe counties are the top five users of the system.
Speaking to the Metropolitan Emergency Services Agency this afternoon, Treasurer Kelly Mitchell (Chair of the Statewide 911 Board) unveiled significant improvements to the Text-to-911 system. Citizens can now send text messages in their native language directly to 911 for assistance, and they will be automatically translated for the dispatcher. As the dispatcher responds, it will automatically be translated into the individual’s native language. 108 languages are available for Text-to-911 translation.
“From a sheriff’s perspective, I want everyone to be able to call for help without a language barrier,” Decatur County Sheriff Dave Durant said. “It really affects the dispatchers.”
In 2014, Indiana was one of the first states to begin implementing Text to 911, and by 2016 all 92 counties had the capability. As a result, Indiana Carriers handled more than 1.3 million inbound and outbound text sessions. Decatur County Communications Director Erika Free said she and her team use Text to 911 daily.
“Our community’s ability to reach 911 in an emergency is vital,” Free said. “There are times when voice communication is not possible or unsafe and texting to 911 has allowed us to answer those calls. This is another big step for our community to end the language barrier between our callers and our carriers and we appreciate all the efforts of the Indiana State 911 Board of Directors, Office of the State Treasurer and Indigital to make this happen.
“With ever-changing technology, this upgrade shows why Indiana is at the forefront of providing 911 service to our non-English speaking citizens,” said Ed Reuter, executive director of the Statewide 911 Board. “This new translation upgrade will help bridge the communication gap and expedite the dispatch of emergency services when every second counts.”
For more information, contact: Ian Hauer at (317) 232-6387 or [email protected]