The text message enhancement will begin this week.
Frederick, Md (KM) Some Frederick County residents and visitors will be able to get the help they need during emergencies. The 911 Center will soon have the capability to communicate with callers whose primary language may not be English. “It’s all about insuring that when people need to call 911 that we remove as many barriers as we can. And one of those is a potential language barrier,” says Jack Markey, Director of the Frederick County Division of Emergency Management.
Starting on September 1st, 2023, Markey says persons who speak other languages can send a text message to dispatchers and get a response in their native tongue. He says that same service will be available on October 1st, 2023 for those who call 911 and use their voice to report an emergency.
Markey says the Frederick County Division of Emergency Management is partnering with Convey911 of Baltimore to add these services in support of the dispatchers who answer emergency calls. “What ConveyConnect will bring to us is basically a single button push where within 30 seconds, we’ll be connected to an interpreter who can help us with the 911 call,” he says.
Also, these interpreters are familiar with what a 911 operator experiences when handling an emergency call. “Convey911 works with an interpretation team, over 22,000 interpreters. But they are public safety trained so they know they’re going to be on 911 calls,” Markey says.
These interpreters also have access to over 340 languages, dialects and sign languages.
Along with that, Markey says 911 Center dispatchers will also be able to further pinpoint the exact location of a person in need of emergency services through a mobile phone. “Often, we’ll get the latitude and longitude fairly well. But what floor, what room. If a person is having a medical emergency and unable to speak, our first question is always ‘what’s the location of the emergency.’ So the better we’re able to refine that.” he says.
Frederick County says Census data shows that 35,000 local residents speak a language other than English, and Markey says this service is needed. “That we have the ability to talk with someone who maybe does speak more than one language. But when they’re under distress in an emergency circumstance, they may fall back to their most comfortable language which may not be English,” says Markey.
By Kevin McManus