911 Translators

By: Meghan Dwyer
By: Meghan Dwyer

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford's 911 operators only speak English so what do they do when someone calls speaking a different language?

When 23 News was in court last week listening to testimony in the ice cream vendor murder case, prosecutors played a 911 call. The caller spoke Spanish. So we wondered how often people called speaking in different languages.

It turned out it happens a lot. Rockford's 911 Center says they have gotten calls in many different languages including Swahili. When that happens, the dispatchers call a separate number through AT&T. it's called the language line and translators speak more than 100 different languages. It takes about 30 seconds to connect and a translator talks to the caller directly.

The 911 Center says the vast majority of non-English calls are Spanish calls. They call the language line for help at least a couple times a week and that can vary.


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