No More Language Barriers For Midland Dispatchers

by Diane Tuazon
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - No matter what language you speak, nothing can stop Midland dispatchers or police officers from communicating with you. The solution is simple, a 24/7 translator.

Emergency dispatchers say having a translator on the line provides much needed assistance when taking those important calls.

"Whenever we get a call from foreign speaking citizen, we call the translator line and they get us a translatoN. Is someone calls speaking only Spanish or German and we don't understand we need to get them help no matter what," Midland Dispatcher, Yolanda Meek said.

The program is called Language Line and works with both E.R. dispatchers and police officers out on the field by connecting them instantly with a real-live person who is fluent in many languages.

Authorities say the use of Language Line has become more frequent in past months with dispatchers needing help with Spanish, Cantonese and German.

"We have 4 shifts and we try to include at least one Spanish speaker, but sometimes that's just not enough," Meek said.

Some Midlanders say having a translator on the line is helpful in the long run.

"If someone calls in and speaks another language, I think it's absolutely necessary to get them help," Midland Resident, Jeff Smith said.

There are other residents who disagree.

"I don't think we have many people that it's necessary to use tax payers money on something like that. I think people should know how to speak English if they live here," Midland Resident, Gary Felton said.

Midland dispatchers say they are currently understaffed and are looking to hire anyone who's bilingual.