The Grand Island Fire Department has a new tool that could potentially save hundreds of lives. The device has only been in service for about a week and already the department has put it to use.

Paramedics respond to all types of calls and generally don’t know the nature of those calls until they arrive.

“This will provide care, quicker aid,” said Grand Island firefighter/EMT Jared Stockwell.

Meet ELSA, the Grand Island Fire Department’s new lifesaving translator.

russ-“It’s called ELSA, which stands for Enabling Language Services Anywhere,” said EMS Davison Chief Russ Blackburn.

ELSA allows medical personnel to interpret a medical condition from a non-English speaking person.

“I think for us, it gives us a little better piece of mind that we’re giving better care and of course more speedy,” Stockwell said.

“I was really surprised when I started researching the number of languages that are spoken in Grand Island,” said Blackburn.

There are over 30 different languages spoken in Grand Island public school, but this new device can translate over 180 languages.

“Not being able to speak or really understand, it’s frustrating for the patient, but it’s also frustrating for us as well,” said Stockwell.

With just a push of a button, EMS is connected to a translator and they’re able to explain to patients what’s going on.

Grand Island is the first fire department in the state of Nebraska to implement the translating tool.

“I’m sure we’ll get a call from a few to see how they workout and what we thought of them and get our opinion of them before also investing maybe,” said Blackburn.

It’s new technology that’s providing better care not only to patients, but to EMS personnel as well.

The device costs $300 to purchase, plus an additional $200 annual subscription fee.

KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana