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Emergency medical services (EMS) providers rely on accurate and efficient communication. Language barriers impact the spectrum of EMS: call-taking dispatch field care. Prior studies in the US show that language barriers: Are stressful for EMS providers and patients, Impact triage decisions (e.g., basic vs. advanced life support), Result in more resource-intensive care on arrival to the hospital despite lower patient acuity. Multicultural , multilingual communities in the American state of New Mexico and the South African province of Western Cape offer complementary settings for an exploratory study of the impact of language barriers across the spectrum of EMS care. This mixed methods study consists of a survey of EMS telecommunicators combined with semi-structured qualitative interviews of EMS field providers. We hypothesize that EMS systems in a variety of settings frequently face language barriers and that these language barriers impact care.

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Poster presented at the 4th biennial Emergency Medicine Society of South Africa Conference, ""Emergency Medicine in the Developing World.""