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Breaking Language Barriers During an Emergency Call

Being in emergency response, we have to be there for everyone who needs us, but factoring in multiculturalism and the many different languages that come with it, this can be difficult for many monitoring companies. Here's how we do it differently.

Breaking Language Barriers During an Emergency Call

Hola. Bonjour. Hallo. Salaam. Konnichiwa. Hello.

All over the United States there are people with different cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities. We are a country rich in diversity. The languages we speak play an important role in what makes us unique.

According to Wikipedia, there are about 430 different languages spoken in the U.S. alone. The top five languages in order after English and Spanish are Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Arabic, and French. These are just a few of the thirty-two languages listed as most prevalent. The Migration Policy Institute reports that roughly twenty-two percent of the population over five years of age speak a language other than English in their home. In some cases, this is due to a lack of fluency. In other cases, it is because English is not known at all.

The top states for linguistic diversity are California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Each of these states are prone to various natural disasters, such as earthquakes, thunderstorms, flash floods, droughts, tornados, or hurricanes. While the United States does not legally have an official language, the de facto language is English. With such diversity in the population and with so many potentially hazardous scenarios, natural or otherwise, it stands to reason that we should be concerned with whether or not our infrastructure and institutions are prepared to accommodate multiple languages. This is especially true regarding emergency situations.

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The advancement of language translation methods

Language translation has come a long way over the years. To advance beyond needing another human that could speak both languages spoken by the two parties involved in order to bridge the gap, society developed books to take out the middleman. There were full-size, comprehensive books to teach us another language, but then there were also handy little travel companions to help us get by with the basic, essential words of a foreign language on the spot.

After books came computer programs that could help us translate text between different languages. As computer technology became both smaller and more powerful, a computerized solution became more manageable and convenient to use.

These days, there are even apps on our cellular smartphones that do much of the work for us. Google Translate, for example, has become increasingly accurate and can translate over one-hundred different languages. Still, the question remains whether these technological tools can effectively replace a human being that is fluent with the context, structure and nuances between different languages. According to computer science professor Alexander Waibel of Carnegie Mellon University's Language Technologies Institute, while we very well might see computer translation that reaches or exceeds the human level in our lifetime, that is not the case today.

The most accurate translation solution

So, what then is the solution for agencies that must be able to understand and communicate effectively with virtually anyone who calls in during a time of crisis? Surely it would be unfeasible to staff a representative of every language spoken in the United States. For many emergency monitoring companies, this is the case. Yet, if human translation is still the most accurate then it must be the means used by emergency services. Thankfully, in Kings III’s case, we do have access to translations for our emergency calls. The solution is a third-party company that provides round-the-clock access to human translators. These companies employ speakers of English and one or more of the other languages most often used in the U.S.

With our service at your property, not only are you getting a full turnkey solution for emergency elevator, pool, stairwell, parking area and area of refuge phones, you get access to the highest caliber of operators as well. Our equipment is designed, assembled, installed, maintained and monitored by us, and our operators are AEMD certified, which is more than many of the nation’s 9-1-1 dispatch centers offer.

No matter what the language of the caller is, our emergency operators are ready to handle the call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If and when a language barrier arises, the operator will break that barrier by contacting and conferencing in an interpreter (click here for a brief video example of an actual call that required translation services). We are able to accommodate upwards of 175 different languages. Whether the caller is trapped in an elevator, the victim of an assault or in need of emergency medical attention, the most appropriate help will be dispatched as quickly as possible.

Kings III considers the needs of all

In a nation so rich in diversity, it is good to know there are solutions to make sure that everyone can have access to the help they need, when they need it. Kings III always has and always will keep customer service at the forefront. It is our pleasure to provide your property with versatility that you can count on. No matter what language your tenants speak, we are ready to take the call and break the barrier.

We can even program the automated recording that plays from the emergency phone system upon activation to be bilingual, repeating the message in both Spanish and English. If your property is predominantly Spanish speaking and our systems are in place, call our service department at 800-766-2029 or click here and let us know. We can reprogram the device remotely to activate this feature.

If Kings III emergency phone systems are not currently in place at your property, contact us today to find out more about the peace of mind we can offer at your location.

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