The 066 system is now bilingual

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

Felipe Cohen, head of the Civil Protection Department, announced that bilingual operators have been hired to assist English speakers who call the 066 emergency number.

In October, for the first time during the 2012–2015 administration, Arturo Yáñez Saldaña, head of the Police Department, attended a meeting requested by some members of the local expat community. In that meeting, the main complaint of the attendees was the lack of bilingual police officers as well as operators who could answer their emergency calls in English. Yáñez conceded this was a problem.

In October, a residential burglary occurred in fraccionamiento el Paraíso. The victim told Atención that she called the 066 emergency number and for five minutes the operator could not understand what was she was requesting; after that, an English speaker helped her.

Finally, in December, the director of Civil Protection announced that three bilingual telephone operators who have been working as employees or volunteers for emergency assistance organizations such as the Red Cross and the Fire Department were hired to assist those who call the emergency number and speak English. This new project will have several stages, said Cohen. In the first stage, the operators will take the calls and stay on the line with callers until the police, firefighters or emergency medical crews arrive. In the future, they could go to the scene to help as interpreters.

“Have the confidence to call us; now there are people who can understand you,” concluded Cohen.

Layla Seaman, a volunteer for the Red Cross, is one of the operators. She told Atención that she is there to help English-speaking expats.

The bilingual operators will work in 24-hour shifts.

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