Hello, My name is Shao, I’m a Paramedic and I’m here to help.
It’s amazing just how often I took that phrase for granted. Every patient I’ve ever walked up to, I’ve said nearly that same greeting. Hundreds, if not bordering on a thousand patients have heard that, understood, and we were able to carry on a conversation.
Then, you have the moments where you can’t. I worked in an area where we didn’t have a high immigrant population, but we had a high rate of foreign visitors. Rarely, though, did I have to worry about it. There was always someone around who spoke Polish, Italian, Spanish, or whatever. Recently though, I had to go it alone.
Walking into a house for an unresponsive, it became very apparent that no one spoke English. I took Latin in school and I can muddle my way through Spanish if I really set my mind to it. I tried my normal, “Yo soy un paramedico…” and I got looked at like I had seventeen heads. For an entire call, I played charades, trying to convey to the patient and the patients’ family that I wasn’t going to kill them, that what I was doing was in the best interest of them.
After that call, I had a few others where I had to use exaggerated motions and the stereotypical speaking English louder and slower than I should’ve. I then made it up in my mind that I would never go into another call without having something to say to any and all patients.
Thus was born ‘The Language Project’.
Talking on Facebook to one of my favorite EMT’s, Brandi, I fleshed out the idea to her; a collection of handy-dandy EMS phrases in as many languages as physically possible with easy to pronounce guides and a print out of a male/female body where they can point to show where they hurt.
In a few weeks, with the help of Brandi and her wonderful friends, we have gotten Hebrew, Spanish, and Italian. They are very rough drafts; we are always looking to add things. Anyone who has ANY experience speaking ANY foreign language is asked to help. Please don’t hesitate to e-mail me with any additions, subtractions, changes, anything you can think of. We would like to make this a joint effort from the entire EMS community.
The lists will be posted on this site under their own tabs. They are available to be printed out and used at will at your services.
More to come on the project!