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Foreign Language Speakers to Answer Emergency Calls in Shanghai
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Shanghai police on Monday set up a talent pool of foreign language speakers to answer emergency calls from the city's growing number of foreigners. Thirty-three policemen and women from various units have become the first members.

Shanghai police will recruit more foreign language speakers every year to consolidate and renew the talent pool, so that every foreigner who calls emergency number 110 can be helped in time, senior officers said.

With the help of interpreter volunteers, the police began answering calls in eight foreign languages -- English, Japanese, Russian, German, French, Spanish, Arabic and Korean -- in 2003.

When a foreigner called 110, the operator would call the mobile phone of a foreign language speaking volunteer -- picked from various police units and told to keep their mobile phones on around the clock -- and start a tripartite conversation.

Once the person's situation was clear, the operator could speed police to the site.

By the end of last year, the interpreter volunteers had received 1,647 calls from foreigners in Shanghai and their assistance to those in need was spoken highly of by foreigners in Shanghai, according to the officers.

(Xinhua News Agency January 10, 2007)

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