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posted: 1/3/2013 9:39 AM

Boone County dispatchers learning Spanish

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Associated Press

BELVIDERE, Ill. -- Authorities in Boone County are hoping to improve response time by teaching emergency dispatchers some Spanish.

The Rockford Register Star reports that 11 dispatchers at the Belvidere-Boone County 911 Center have enrolled in an online course called Spanish on Patrol. That course teaches basic words and phrases that callers commonly use in emergencies.

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Currently, Spanish-speaking residents wait up to 90 seconds before a translator is connected to the call. During that time, dispatchers don't know if they're dealing with an emergency or if the responding crews could encounter a dangerous situation.

The program isn't designed to make dispatchers bilingual. But Boone County Sheriff's Lt. Perry Gay says the goal is to become more comfortable in communicating with Spanish speakers.

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