Translation in an emergency setting is a challenge that first responders face on a daily basis. For example, London Luton Airport’s Fire Service would previously have to find a member of staff or a passenger that could help them translate, which is not always possible.

As a last resort, the service would carry around a large flipbook containing numerous medical questions in a multitude of languages, but this did not solve the problem of understanding any responses.

AI-Powered Language Translation Device

Now they have a more instant device to provide a faster and easier way to communicate.

It’s called Pocketalk, an AI-powered language translation device designed for instant and accurate two-way conversations at the touch of the button, even in noisy environments.

Pocketalk supports 82 languages, addressing 90% of the world’s population. It has been used as an emergency communications tool to break down barriers between first responders like fire service staff and healthcare practitioners and their service users/patients.

Quick, Easy, Calm

Firefighters can use Pocketalk to communicate quickly, easily, and calmly with people at the scene of an emergency.

It helps them to overcome language barriers and achieve a range of goals – from assessing injuries of people who don’t speak English as a first language to asking them for more information about an emergency situation.

Organizations face a growing challenge to meet changing communication needs. For example, among the United Kingdom’s increasingly diverse population, around one in ten people do not speak English as their first language. In areas like London, this figure is around one in five people.

Emergency Services Donations

Healthcare providers including five UK ambulance services received donations and are using Pocketalk Following an announcement earlier in 2020 that 500 Pocketalk W devices were being donated to emergency services providers in Europe to help them deal with COVID-19, London Luton Airport’s Fire Service was one of the organizations to apply for units.

Healthcare providers including five UK ambulance services - North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Avon Valley Community Responders, St Johns Ambulance (Norwich), St Johns Ambulance (Greater Manchester), and Special Ambulance Transfers – also received donations and are using Pocketalk.

The parent company, Sourcenext, has an interest in language learning, which is where Pocketalk came from.

The product vision was simple –to make it easy for people who speak different languages to understand each other. Pocketalk is now helping to break down language barriers all over the world.

Awareness & Usefulness

The best way to increase awareness of Pocketalk and its usefulness in an emergency situation is to get the devices in the hands of service users, the company says.

During the start of the COVID pandemic, we wanted to help people by donating devices to emergency services teams,” says Tomoaki Kojim, Senior Managing Director of Sourcenext Corp.

This, in turn, has helped these teams to understand exactly how it can be of benefit in an emergency —namely, by providing quick and accurate language translations, without the need for an interpreter (in person or on the phone).

Two-Way Communication

Pocketalk helped to open up two-way communication quickly and save time for medical emergencies  For the London Luton Airport Fire Service, Pocketalk devices have helped to open up that two-way communication quickly.

In medical emergencies, time can be crucial – Pocketalk not only helps them to save time but also to get a detailed account from the patient or any witnesses to an incident.

It has also helped with general communication from the passengers, some of whom are distressed when trying to find the correct gate or which bus to catch as they leave the airport.

No Language Barrier

London Luton Airport Fire Service has not had to change any of its procedures after implementing Pocketalk, but they have been very happy to retire their translation book.

It also reassures them that language is not the barrier it used to be when dealing with people during their working day. For them, implementing Pocketalk devices has been easy, and all operational members of staff at the fire station have had a short training session on how to operate the Pocketalk devices.

The fire service has also loaned its spare device to passenger services assistants at the airport to help them with any potential communication issues.

One challenge to implementing the device could be getting staff to learn how to use it and practice with it in training situations, so they can really rely on it in an emergency. That said, “Pocketalk is easy to use and does not take long to master,” says Kojim.

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Larry Anderson Editor, TheBigRedGuide.com, Notting Hill Media

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