The county has been providing interpreter services for callers who are non-English speakers. The interpreter service has been provided by the county to give the residents and the organization a better experience. The Central Dispatch had been providing such a service for the past 15 years. Its 911 director, Mary Kackley said that about 10 calls requiring translation support are received by the organization each month.
Callers speaking various languages
She said that since there is a large Hispanic community in their county, they thought Spanish would be the number one language in their area. However, she said that they have had numerous calls from French speakers, such as those people that are traveling from Quebec to Florida. Although not frequent, they have received calls from people speaking an African dialect. Currently the Central Dispatch does not have bilingual dispatchers in their employ.
Change of service provider
Because they need to have a service that would connect a caller to an interpreter faster and save money at the same time, the West Virginia Central Dispatch will be changing their language interpreting service provider. This means a remarkable drop in their per minute call charge from $1.70 to just $0.75.
The process for this type of service involves a three-way call. After they have selected the right language to use, the dispatcher will ask the questions to the interpreter. The interpreter will ask the caller and then will interpret the answers. A call such as this takes about 10 minutes, which is longer than a usual 911 call because there are more people involved. They have projected that their annual charges would not exceed 1,200 minutes, which means they would be able to save about $1,100 by changing their interpretation service provider.
According to Andrew Light, the Central Dispatch deputy director, the new service provider allows them to hook up the caller to an interpreter faster as the system is directly linked via phone, automatically detecting that the call is from Berkeley County. The system also provides language prompts and allows them to assign speed dial numbers for the various languages.
This means that they would be able to provide assistance quicker to a caller who does not speak English. Speed is essential when they receive a 911 call, therefore they are very confident that the service will give them the support and assistance they need for emergency calls. The service would also help reduce the panic that a non-English speaker caller experiences because of the language barrier.
After the proposal had been reviewed by Norwood Bentley, the legal counsel of Berkeley County, the Central Dispatch would enter into a 16-month contract with the new phone interpreting service provider.