Gov't to develop speech translation app for ambulance crews NATIONAL SEP. 04, 2015 - 06:51AM JST ( 32 ) TOKYO — The government will develop a multilingual speech translation app for use by ambulance crews on their smartphones as the number of foreign tourists is expected to increase with the hosting of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, government officials said Thursday.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency hopes to provide speedy emergency care to foreign visitors and save more lives by enabling ambulance crew members to communicate more smoothly.
The agency plans to begin using the smartphone app during the fiscal year from April 2019. The app is expected to translate Japanese into English, Chinese and Korean, and vice versa, and have the ability to handle some technical words, including people’s medical conditions and the names of drugs.
It has requested about 60 million yen in the government’s budget for the next fiscal year from April 2016 for the development of the app, and research and development of a next-generation ambulance.
The agency also plans to spread the use of the app to fire departments across the country and increase the languages the app can handle if its initial use proves effective, according to the officials.
The app will be designed so that if an ambulance crew member speaks some Japanese words into it, it will recite them in one of the other languages chosen, with a text message on display. Patients’ responses will be translated into Japanese through the app.
Questions asked by the crew would include whether those needing treatment are covered by travel insurance and their medical history.
Currently, ambulance crews use illustrations or a telephone interpretation service to communicate with people who do not speak Japanese.
According to the Tokyo Fire Department, the number of foreigners who used ambulances in its area grew to 8,482 in 2014 from 6,777 in 2012 and 7,644 in 2013.
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