B.C. paramedic aims to save lives with multi-language translation book

James Shearer has launched the Emergency Medical Translator – which he calls one of the first tools designed specifically for emergency environments

With thousands of non-English-speaking people living in B.C., the need for a paramedic to respond to a health emergency can quickly become riddled with barriers if they can’t communicate with the patient.

Which is why a B.C. paramedic is hoping a pocket-sized translation book will bridge the language gap — and it’s also leaving some asking why such a tool was never thought of before.

James Shearer, a paramedic on the Sunshine Coast, launched the Emergency Medical Translator this week – that he calls one of the first tools designed specifically for emergency environments. Shearer explained the idea was sparked after noticing how language plays a key role on the job.

“It certainly come up regularly because any paramedic or first-responder begins an assessment by engaging with a patient,” he said. “If that isn’t possible because of a language barrier that certainly changes the way we have to approach the call.”

The plastic booklet can fit into a uniform shirt pocket and contains nine languages: Punjabi, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean, Farsi, Spanish, Arabic, French, Hindi, and Vietnamese.

It also includes symbols and diagrams to help with further clarification including level of pain, specific symptoms and body parts.

“The first thing I did was approach it from a paramedic standpoint,” Shearer said. “What are the typical questions I would want to know when helping a patient.”

Other factors he considered while creating the prototype was ensuring the book was light-weight but concise, and one that can be used in all kinds of medical emergencies.

“One size fits all is never realistic in pre-hospital [response],” he said. From field-testing by colleagues, and by using it himself, Shearer added that feedback has been positive so far.

Since launching the translator on Oct.30, its received almost 45 per cent of the $9,500 funding goal – a pretty good sign in Shearer’s books.

The idea of the book is to point to words instead of pronouncing them. (Submitted)

“I think the feedback falls into one of two camps: non-medical people seeing this and saying ‘how doesn’t this already exist?’ But, I think there’s still lot’s of inventions for us to come up with,” he said.

The province nor BC Emergency Health Services has contacted Shearer, who is working to get his translator into the hands of paramedics across the country and beyond. But first responders are showing plenty of interest online, with many going out of pocket to pre-purchase the book.

Shearer said that speaks to the passion paramedics everywhere have when it comes to doing their job the best they can.

“We must advocate for their patients and their care, and we can only do that if we understand,” he said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UBC Okanagan men’s volleyball falls to WolfPack

The Heat’s Brennan Goski closed his career to graduate in spring

UBC Okanagan Heat volleyball players close out career

The 3 volleyball stars will graduate in spring

Coyotes baseball team opens season in Las Vegas

The team will play 14 games in 12 days

A new name for Rutland? A social media post sparks debate

It seems the name of the Kelowna neighbourhood is a hot topic

Okanagan College boasts second LEED Platinum award

The college earned it’s second award for the new trades building in Kelowna

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Summerland’s Justin Kripps wins bobsleigh world cup event

Canadian team picks up their first four-man bobsleigh win on the world cup circuit

Most Read