In a diverse area like the Bay Area, where residents speak dozens of different languages, some first responders are now relying on an interpretation service called Language Line in Monterey.
In its’ 30 years, Language Line Services has been answering 20 million phone calls per year, interpreting in 170 different languages for first responders, businesses, and government agencies.
“The Bay Area is a melting pot,” said San Jose police spokesman, Sgt. Jason Dwyer. “You can’t control who’s calling. The service expectation is the same, no matter the language.”
The San Jose 911 center is now using the service through AT&T, which is helpful in a city of more than 1 million residents, where at one high school alone - Independence High - students speak more than 70 languages.
Language Services has now unveiled a real time mobile service, where officers on the scene can call the center itself by dialing * 4.
“It’s all about mobility today,” said John Britton, spokesman for AT&T.
“The English speaking paramedic can get Vietnamese assistance on the phone real quick. It can save a life.”
Language Line says one in five people living in the U.S. speaks a language other than English.
“You can immediately get one of our interpreters on the line to deal with whatever situation, a national catastrophe like Katrina, or something as simple as a car accident,” said Scott. W. Klein, C.E.O. of Language Line.
The mobile service is exclusive business customers on AT&T right now.
Language Line will provide 5,000 interpreters worldwide.