NMRECC uses Prepared translation to help reunite family
At Prepared, our mission is to bring lifesaving technology to every person. That means that no matter the emergency, no matter the community, and (as you will read very soon) no matter the language they speak, every person can be aided during their time of need.
The launch of text language translation within Prepared Live was a significant milestone for our company, one that we were excited to bring to our partner agencies and their dedicated staff. After all, these professionals are the ones that do the real, heroic work of saving lives, day-in and day-out.
Powered by an API that is used by millions around the world, text language translation sits in the same interface as each of Prepared Live's multiple lifesaving functionalities, including livestream, text, GPS location, and more.
Earlier this year, one of these centers, the Northern Middlesex Regional Emergency Communications Center (NMRECC) in Massachusetts, used text language translation to incredible effect. The incident spanned over the course of eight days, involved four different telecommunicators and supervisors, as well as the assistance of multiple local initiatives and agencies, and resulted in a family being reunited and a woman getting the help that she needed.
This is the story, as shared with Prepared by Executive Director Kevin Lessard.
Note: quotes were lightly edited for clarity and continuity
The help you need, when you need it
On January 9th, the Dracut Police Department, one of the agencies NMRECC dispatches for, received a call from a concerned citizen, saying that a son had reported that his mother had left and he didn’t know where she was.
After engaging with the son via outbound text from Prepared Live to acquire recent pictures, it was discovered within a few hours that the mother was working in nearby Revere, MA and that she was okay. The mother herself also made statements to explain what had occurred and that it was a misunderstanding.
While something seemed slightly awry, they were able to close the incident the same day as nothing indicated a need for further action. After a few days, however, NMRECC began to receive new messages from the mother that populated in the initial Prepared Live incident.
It turned out that the mother did not speak English, only Spanish, but because NMRECC uses Prepared’s text language translation functionality, the messages translated automatically.
“The minute she started texting, the auto translate came up and worked fantastically. I mean, there was not even a blip in the radar between us speaking to her, asking questions, and whatever else was needed,” says Lessard.
The NMRECC team soon discovered that she was currently part of a support program and that they would need to engage their Frontline Initiative, a program that, according to Lessard, “Helps people who are in transition, people that are dealing with substance abuse issues, or dealing with mental health issues.”
“The minute she started texting, the auto translate came up and worked fantastically. I mean, there was not even a blip in the radar between us speaking to her, asking questions, and whatever else was needed."
Over the next four days, NMRECC and the woman went back and forth over Prepared Live, empowered by text language translation, to ensure that she was able to travel to and from court, housing, and work. Working in concert with the Frontline Initiative, which is staffed by mental health clinicians that are able to assist officers on-scene, personnel were able to visit with the woman in person to explain how they were going to be able to help her moving forward.
“In the end we assisted her with what she needed, including additional things that only our partners could help her with. The fact that it was translation back and forth was extremely helpful to everybody involved.
“At first it sounded to us like a serious situation with a son concerned about the parent and he could speak English, but she could not. Then once we started reaching out to her, using Prepared, which no other system that we have in our arsenal could allow us to do, this is [the situation] we ended up with…[fortunately] all ended well.
"The fact that it was translation back and forth was extremely helpful to everybody involved."
“We eventually reunited family members and made sure… that we learn from this [for future similar situations],” Lessard concluded.
Going above and beyond by using Prepared Live
Not only were the NMRECC staff able to leverage the power to translation, they also received media from the woman throughout the ordeal.
“Without having Prepared Live, we would specifically have to be dealing with calling into a language line that we have to contract with because the call was originally placed to Dracut Police, which we answered and processed on a phone call,” said Lessard.
He added, “We never would have even reached out if we didn't have [Prepared Live] because we would only [be able to] do our normal channels of making a phone call, starting the missing person process, and then just waiting for someone to come across her.”
This story is about the power of technology and the good that it can do in the hands of good people. Prepared is so proud to partner with NMRECC, Executive Director Lessard, and the amazing telecommunicators that power the center.
Lessard concludes our conversation by saying, “Going above and beyond is what we ask of our people because that's what they do normally. It seems weird to say that, but our staff really just do it; it’s in their job description.”
“Their goal is to help people and they do that every day…as a director, I like to see real life examples like this of like, hey, this is a unique situation and we don’t just sit on it and say, 'Well, that's someone else's problem' - that's not what we do…they took initiative and that's what we want to see them do. I'm proud of that."