By Kimberly Conner
In medical emergencies, every second counts.
Michael Marquez, corporate president of Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service (8310 17th Avenue), says that language barriers are common obstacles facing emergency medical workers serving the local community.
Earlier this month, we reported on a 9-year-old girl who was struck by a car on Avenue U near McDonald Avenue. The child’s grandmother didn’t speak English and workers from a nearby Chinese restaurant had to act as translators at the scene, according to a witness.
Once a largely Italian-American neighborhood, Bensonhurst has seen a rapid influx of immigrants in recent years from countries like China, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, and Pakistan. More than half of Bensonhurst residents are foreign-born, according to data from the Department of City Planning. The Chinese population in particular has grown significantly. Of the foreign-born residents in Bensonhurst, 41 percent are from China.
In order to overcome these language barriers and continue providing life-saving services to the community, Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Service recruits volunteer EMTs who are bilingual. The organization currently has volunteers who are able to translate Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, and Arabic.
Watch our video about the growing importance of translation services in emergency medical situations.