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Paramedic book aims to cross language barriers in emergency care

Last Updated Oct 31, 2018 at 11:45 pm PDT

Emergency Medical Translator on IndieGoGo. (Source: Indiegogo, screenshot)

SUNSHINE COAST (NEWS 1130) – A B.C. paramedic has started an online fundraiser aimed at getting a potentially life-saving invention into the hands of first responders around the globe.

James Shearer, a paramedic from the Sunshine Coast, wants to help first responders communicate with patients, something he says can be critical in an emergency. He created the Emergency Medical Translator for that reason.

The pocket-size plastic flip book has phrases in nine languages and 11 pages of symbols that can help paramedics do their assessments. It’s designed to help responders communicate with patients who don’t speak English.

“I really felt that there was a gap that I could help fill that would serve in the immediacy when you’re on-scene, and you ask a patient a question, and they turn to you and you don’t get an answer because they don’t understand what you’re saying,” he says. “That’s really what led me to it.”

He says there’s already been some interest from across the globe. He’s started an online fundraiser on Indiegogo hoping to produce the booklets on a larger scale.

“There’s certainly situations where you want to get to the root of the problem, maybe to figure out what led to the situation, or where exactly their pain is, or what sort of medical history they may have,” Shearer says. “The only way you can do that is by communicating with them.”

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A smart phone could do the same thing, but working as a paramedic can be messy.

“I think that this is an environment and a situation where an app maybe isn’t the best solution,” he says. “And something that is really tailored to pre-hospital medical care is what’s needed. ”

He’s hoping to raise $9,500 to get the invention into production.