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The City of Portland, Oregon

911 Bureau of Emergency Communications

Partners in Public Safety. Call 911: Save a Life, Report a Fire, Stop a Crime.

Emergency & Text: 9-1-1

emergency: 503-760-6911

Non-emergency: 503-823-3333

Interpreter / Translator Needed

The Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) utilizes Language Link for over-the-phone interpretation services.  Language Link is available 24/7, connects within seconds and provides a state-of-the-art call center with high quality interpreters.  They offer interpreters for more than 240 languages and dialects.  All Language Link interpreters hold a professional certification, have at least two years of professional interpreting experience, and sign a confidentiality agreement. 

Many cultures mistrust or fear law enforcement (police).  Many people in various cultures grew up in an environment where local authorities were not always working in the public's best interests, and they bring those fears with them to the United States.  In some cases, the immigration status may influence whether someone calls 9-1-1 due to fears (real or assumed) of deportation.  Callers to 9-1-1 may be reluctant to provide their full name, date of birth, address, and other personal information and may not understand why this information is necessary.  They may become suspicious and even uncooperative, which can slow down emergency response times.

If you or someone you know does not speak English, dial 9-1-1 and advise the Calltaker what language you speak.  It helps us if you are able to tell us the language you speak in English.  We also encourage people to learn how to say the type of help they need (e.g., police, fire, medical) and their address.  If nothing else, we can start emergency responders with that limited information while we conference the call with an interpreter.  As we conference in an interpreter, the caller may hear some clicking sounds or even a ringing sound.  It is important to remain on the line and do NOT hang up. 

Once an interpreter is on the line, please answer each of their questions concisely and allow them to talk with the 9-1-1 Calltaker.  The Calltaker will process the information into a computer aided dispatch (CAD) system and relayed to a dispatcher, who dispatches the appropriate responders.  Calltakers may keep you on the line to obtain additional information for the responders.  Responders can be started while the Calltaker is still asking you questions.  Answering questions does NOT delay the response.

Language Link is available for non-emergency calls, as well.  Dial the Non-Emergency Number, press one at the recording, and wait for a Calltaker to come on the line.  Remember, whether you call 9-1-1 or Non-Emergency, stay calm and answer all of the Calltakers questions.  Speak slowly and clearly and provide short answers.   Lastly, help can be started in emergency situations while you are still talking with a 9-1-1 Calltaker.