OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. All 90 of the Kissimmee Fire Department's operations workers began training this week to improve communication with Spanish speakers.
Battalion Chief Eric Cruz is teaching a three-hour course for first responders.
Personnel will learn Spanish words and phrases associated with responding to a fire or medical emergency.
With about 42 percent of city residents identifying themselves as Hispanic or Latino, the department recognized the need for this type of training, officials said.
"This training will help our personnel to communicate critical information such as allergies and medical history in order for us to treat a resident in a quick and safe manner," Cruz said. "In some emergency situations, the ability to communicate in a citizen's first language could spare the critical seconds that could mean the difference between life and death."
A more intensive six-week course offered through the city is being considered for the emergency personnel to take in the fall.