The Commonwealth of Massachusetts State 911 Department has entered into a contract with Qwest Communications to provide over the phone language interpreter services to all 270 primary 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). This language interpretive service will be funded through wire-line and wireless Enhanced 9-1-1 revenues for PSAPs; this will allow for large discounts to the Commonwealth based on the high statewide call volume
Interpreting in over 150 languages, Qwest Communications will allow 9-1-1 call takers to conference in an interpreter when they receive an emergency call from a caller who does not speak English. People of foreign dialects who live in Massachusetts should feel confident that in an emergency, Massachusetts 9-1-1 call takers will be there to listen and to respond no matter what language they speak. "We hope this state-funded interpreter service will create a level of comfort and safety for non-English speaking callers that need emergency services" said Monna Wallace, Director of Programs for the State 911 Department. "Interpretation services for emergency calls will be a tremendous advantage to public safety telecommunicators - our critical link between people in crisis and our police, fire and emergency medical systems."
**Please see the job aid section under PSAP resources for a list of Qwest job aids.
Bridging the Cultural Divide: Cultural Competence in Public Safety
Planning for limited English proficient callers may actually help increase knowledge of how to use emergency services, thereby reducing the numbers of misdials and hang-up calls, making the organization more efficient. Please see the NetworkOmni article file size 2MB published in Emergency Number Professional magazine for tips and suggestions that are designed to help increase your organization's proficiency in working with telephone interpreting services and handling barriers of culture and language.