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SALT LAKE CITY — When most of us call 911, we trust someone will answer and be ready to help. But what happens when you and the 911 operator don’t speak the same language?

El Paso emergency services requirements.

However, Jimenez-Flores notes that hiring someone who is bilingual shouldn’t be the only criteria.

“Just because you are bilingual, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can offer interpretation, so they should be certified and qualified,” she added.

VECC is currently promoting dispatcher careers in local schools.

“This is an excellent career for them, or an entryway,” explained Whitaker. “So I want to work with the counselors at the high school to be able to introduce this as a career, therefore having more diversity as well.”


La Rey 107.1 DJ Oscar Correa believes it’s possible the lack of multilingual 911 dispatchers is a sign that VECC and other centers aren’t targeting the right demographics. After putting a call out on his radio show, Correa says he received multiple comments on his social media platforms asking how and where people could apply for 911 dispatcher positions.

How does one become a 911 dispatcher?

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After asking his listeners on the air waves and on social media about their experiences with 911, many listeners responded with queries of how to become a 911 dispatcher.

“There are so many people capable of working as a 911 dispatcher — people that speak both Spanish in English and could work for VECC — but perhaps their message isn’t getting to the Hispanic community of Salt Lake maybe because the information they are sharing is in places we don’t even know exist, ” Correa said.

The ACLU of Utah says the only option is to be proactive about hiring bilingual call-takers.

“These are life and death situations,” said Jimenez-Flores, “and a minute can mean the end of someone’s life. And even when the stakes aren’t as high, people deserve equal access to all of the services that are available,”


Other requirements, according to the Dispatcher Training Act, require each applicant to meet certain citizenship criteria, be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, pass a drug and background investigation, and pass a psychiatric evaluation.

Once hired, among other certifications, all call takers are required to become Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) certified.