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Spanish-Speaking Responders Get FirstNet Guide in Spanish

The guide details FirstNet processes from activation to response to how to integrate it into a jurisdiction’s protocols. The Spanish translation will help those who would feel more comfortable using their own language.

Alexandra Navarro was an associate member of the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board in 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit and took out 95 percent of the cell sites, leaving the island without communications and in a blackout.

Navarro, now a FirstNet board member, knows firsthand how important it is that emergency responders and emergency managers are on the same page, and for Spanish-speaking responders to be able to communicate effectively. And now, as FirstNet announced that its resource guide has been translated into Spanish, the task has become measurably easier.

“To have this in Spanish, I know is going to make a difference to a lot of people,” Navarro said. “And that difference, having the guide in a different language, can potentially save a lot of lives.”

The guide is a resource for emergency managers and first responders to understand what FirstNet is and what it can do. Many U.S. communities are distrustful of government, and first responders with a guide in their native language will help ease that trust. Also, many first responders have been recruited from Puerto Rico, Navarro said, so this guide, in Spanish, is invaluable to them.

“There’s a lot of Spanish-speaking first responders in the States," she said, "and we saw the need to update the guide for the emergency responders who don’t know how FirstNet can be used in a particular manner, such as pre-staged events, and it can be included in your planning."

The guide details the processes involved with FirstNet such as activation, how other jurisdictions are using it and how to integrate it into your own specific set of challenges.

“I think this is really unique and will reach a wider audience,” said Candice Appiakorang, FirstNet public affairs specialist. “We don’t have many resources in Spanish.”

Navarro says she always feels how grateful Spanish-speaking first responders are when she is on the ground visiting a jurisdiction. “A couple of days ago we were in Puerto Rico at the emergency management agency and announced this was in Spanish and they were so grateful. A lot of people think that everybody speaks and understands English, and some do and some don’t; some feel more comfortable in their own vernacular.”