U.S. Case Raises Questions about 911 Service for Non-English Speakers

Posted on: October 6th, 2015 by Suzanne Deliscar Add A Comment

Brampton lawyer-linguist Suzanne Deliscar says a situation in the United States involving a 911 dispatcher who is accused of turning away callers who spoke only Spanish raises questions about the services available for non-English speakers who call 911 in Ontario.

“In an emergency situation, it’s vital to have people available to speak the language of the caller — otherwise there will be people in trouble and unable to communicate for help,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Deliscar weighs in on the issue as the Lawrence Police Department in Massachusetts investigates a dispatcher for allegedly mishandling emergency calls. Protocol at the police department in that city is to help any 911 caller in any language by connecting them with one of several available translators, reports Fox25 News. Roughly 75 per cent of the population of Lawrence speak Spanish, says the article.

A routine audit revealed issues with how an employee handled calls from Spanish speakers. The employee is now on leave while the investigation is underway, says the article.

Deliscar says it’s unfortunate that such problems would be revealed in a city where most people speak Spanish.

She says the situation underscores the importance of having language service available to all 911 callers — in the U.S. and Canada.

See more at: http://www.advocatedaily.com/u-s–case-raises-questions-about-911-service-for-non-english-speakers.html

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