The city of Winston-Salem announced on Tuesday a plan to offer emergency services in more languages. 

The city held a statewide meeting, which also served as an announcement to publicize the addition of a language accessibility plan for limited English-speaking communities in case of future emergencies. 

Javier Correa-Vega, Winston-Salem’s Language Access Coordinator, began his speech with a request of the audience, in Spanish.

"Si entiendes español sabes lo que te estoy diciendo, si no entiendes español vas a estar bien perdido," he said. "This is what I’m saying, my name is Javier Correa-Vega and I want you to go to the next window and pay your water bill."

Correa-Vega also introduced new badges for city employees, which read “Hablo Español.” He says this will help the community identify bilingual city officials. 

After passing a language proficiency test, those with badges will receive an extra $1,100 per year. In the case of emergencies like the Winston Weaver fertilizer plant fire in 2022, these employees will work with the Winston-Salem Language Access department. 

Correa-Vega says the personnel will collaborate with the marketing department, the mayor's office, city hall, and they will also send someone to be at the emergency site. He says the city currently has around 60 people who speak Spanish.

This story was produced by a partnership between WFDD and La Noticia. 

Eileen Rodriguez is a reporter for both WFDD and La Noticia through Report for America, where she covers COVID-19's impact in the Latino Communities.

Periodista de La Noticia y 88.5 WFDD, Eileen Rodríguez reporta el impacto de COVID-19 en la comunidad Latina en Carolina del Norte. Rodríguez es miembro del cuerpo de periodistas de Report for America 2021-2022

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