Fla. firefighter/Paramedics try scaling language with shortcut


 
 

Mark PinoOrlando Sentinel | | Tuesday, June 26, 2007


KISSIMMEE, Fla. Firefighters responding to a call find a man in pain and surrounded by distressed relatives. Everybody's talking at once, but it's clear that no one at home speaks English.

Rather than waste precious time waiting for a translator, the crew refers to their phonetic "cheat sheets" of key medical phases that help them quickly determine that the man is suffering chest pains.

"Voy a cuidarle bien" or "Voy/ah/kwee-DAR-lay/BEE+een" -- Spanish for "I'm going to take good care of you" -- they tell the man.

It seems reassuring, even in a heavy Southern drawl.

Last week, Battalion Chief Eric Cruz drilled 90 firefighters, paramedics and EMTs on key phrases so they can better serve residents in a city where the number of Hispanic residents is approaching half the population.

The mock scenario is no longer an uncommon one for Kissimmee firefighters.

"When I started working here [in 1989], you might get a call once a week with a Spanish-speaking family," Cruz said. "Now it's at least once a shift. The demand is there."

Census figures show that 42 percent of Kissimmee's residents are Hispanic, but in the Osceola County school district the Hispanic student population is already at 50 percent.

While the department has each of its three shifts staffed with a bilingual firefighter, help also can come from a radio link, cell-phone call, family, neighbors or the police department, which has more bilingual officers.

Some students took to the format right away, sounding like Spanish speakers as they voiced the words from a workbook designed to help them key in on patients' needs.

"It will help provide better service to residents," said Justin Farmer, a firefighter who took the class Friday. The department plans to make laminated "cheat sheets" standard in every truck.

The goal is to quickly figure out what is wrong with a patient. The questions mostly require yes or no answers, such as whether a person is taking medication, is having trouble breathing, has a medical condition or needs to go to the hospital.

As crews went through the training, Cruz emphasized that all they needed to do was read the phonetic breakdowns in English, and the words coming out of their mouths would sound like Spanish.

Kissimmee Fire Chief Robert King said that communication is crucial in life-and-death situations.

"Anything you can do to make customers feel a little more comfortable is important. If someone is speaking to you, they're going to feel a little more comfortable if they understand what you're saying," King said.

Some firefighters may also decide to take an eight-week conversational Spanish class that the city offers to all employees.

Cruz said the "Command Spanish" program can be adapted for other departments, such as Parks and Recreation and the police department.






Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Industry News, Training

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Delaware Bus Crash MCI

A view from the triage sector as EMS crews work on several patients.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

REMSA Programs Helps Reduce Hospital Visits

Community paramedic effort goes into service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

City Official Challenges San Francisco Fire Chief

Ambulance response times among problems noted by city supervisor.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Crash

Victoria ambulance collides with civilian vehicle.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Delaware Bus Crash MCI

A view from the triage sector as EMS crews work on several patients.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

CO Leak at Illinois School

Girard incident sends over 130 to hospitals.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On September 2014

Who gets thumbs up this month?
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >