Medical Terms Translated Incorrectly and the Call for Standardization


In Cambodia, translating medical trauma is becoming increasingly difficult. For translating medical terms and abstract concepts to English, “the problem [is] that there were no agreed and consistent translations.” This is an intriguing dilemma because there is a psychological side to the problem. The words for depression and anxiety are often vague Cambodian phrases such as the phrase “thelea-tdeuk-ceut (the water in my heart has fallen)” to describe depression, according to an article devoted specifically to this issue. Continue reading

Lost in (Medical) Translation


A language barrier in an emergency medical situation can have dreadful results.

According to a New England Journal of Medicine report from 2006, “Some 49.6 million Americans (18.7 percent of U.S. residents) speak a language other than English at home; 22.3 million (8.4 percent) have limited English proficiency, speaking English less than “very well,” according to self-ratings.” Continue reading

EMS Language Barrier Stories on Reddit


Reddit provides a forum for organizing a variety of topics, which in turn, makes it easier for the general public to stumble upon these things. Don’t believe me?  I invite you to type the topic of your choice into the subreddit search bar and see if anything pops up. Chances are they’ve got multiple forums where people are discussing the exact topic (or at least something really close to) what you were looking for. Continue reading

Dallas First Responders in Need of Translators



In Dallas, Texas, 37 percent of the population is estimated to speak Spanish. Language barriers in emergency situations are increasingly common and a recurring problem for first responders – fire fighters, police, and paramedics. The 1st Minute App is a great asset for public safety personnel when they find themselves unable to communicate with a proficient, non-English speaker. Continue reading

Texas: The Challenges of a Multilingual State








If you’re a Texan native, you definitely know how wonderfully diverse both this state and the DFW area is. If you’re not from Texas originally, a popular bumper sticker says you’re probably trying to get here as fast as you can!   The resulting diverse population allows the state to boast a heritage rich in multicultural affect.  But it can pose a problem in moments of emergency. What happens if a foreign language speaker calls 911, help arrives, but they are unable to communicate in English with paramedics?

Being stationed in Dallas has given LanguageMAPS the chance to see just how great the need is for our mobile translation app, 1st Minute. This article by the Texas Tribune discusses the trends in bilingual 911 services and how they are already present in areas like El Paso.

But that’s not enough. If 911 call-takers are being called upon more often to understand emergencies in a language other than English, shouldn’t first responders be expected of the same? Furthermore, what about offering languages other than Spanish? Surprisingly, this need is not sufficiently met.  First responders can’t keep up with all the languages that are spoken in a major metropolitan area like Dallas.  The 1st Minute App changes that by allowing EMS professionals to interact with non-English speaking patients in an intuitive way.

We spoke with a EMT recently and he gave us his thoughts on the language barrier issue and even a firsthand example of how it has affected his work as an EMT. In just the one small part of the Metroplex that he works in, there are smaller areas within that can have only English-speaking citizens, or only foreign-born immigrants, or everything in between. With the diversity that Texas has to offer and with over 20% of the US population speaking a language other than English at home, this is no surprise.

The 1st Minute App aims to help first responders maintain quick decision making without being hindered by a language barrier problem. Here in the melting pot of DFW, there is no shortage of reminders that the solution of the 1st Minute App is a very real need with the national EMS community.