Training translators to relay emergency communications in different languages

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The earthquake on Nov. 30, 2018 reminded emergency management officials there's work to be done to ensure all Alaskans have access to emergency updates. Anchorage officials are working to translate common emergency communications into a variety of languages.

Anchorage officials say they have a robust emergency response system. However, officials say one major thing they didn't take into account until after last year’s earthquake -- Anchorage is a diverse city, and many do not speak English as a first language.

The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management is revamping its emergency communications system to meet the needs of multiple ethnic groups. The idea is to be better prepared for things like earthquakes -- but also for extreme weather events and natural disasters like wildfires, which scientists forecast will increase due to a warming climate.

Using a $10,000 grant award from the National League of Cities, emergency managers are training “Peer Leader Navigators,” or PLNs. PLNs connect their ethnic communities to resources and information in their own language in emergency situations. The muni is working with the PLN Program to pre-translate common emergency messaging into different languages so they're ready to send out at a moment's notice.

The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management will host a workshop to train PLNs to respond to different natural disasters. That’s scheduled for Saturday Oct. 19.

Click here for emergency preparedness instructions in 17 different languages.

For more information on Anchorage's Emergency Management Plans and how to get involved, call (907) 343-1401 or send an email to

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