What It's Like to Interpret an Emergency Broadcast

Angela Drakos is an experienced Auslan interpreter who lives in Brisbane. As part of her work, she is often called on to interpret emergency broadcasts. We asked her a few questions about what this is like.


What was the first emergency broadcast you interpreted for? How did you feel beforehand and how did it go?  

The first emergency broadcast I interpreted was for Cyclone Debbie in 2017. As it was my first one, I was a little nervous as I knew that Deaf people watching would be relying on the information and also knowing that it would be broadcast all over Queensland as well as potentially all over Australia. It was a lot of information in a relatively short time, but I felt quite confident that it went well in the end.



Pictured: Angela interprets a recent press conference during the Townsville floods.


How much preparation time do you get or get access to before a broadcast goes "live"? 

Generally we are booked to arrive at Queensland Fire and Emergency headquarters, at Kedron, in advance of the broadcast. We are able to sit in on the Queensland Disaster Management Committee meeting with the Premier, Ministers and Commissioners where they discuss the current state of emergency and areas affected. This gives us advance notice of what may be announced along with areas being affected and any other information we may need. This is especially helpful if they are areas that we may not be familiar with which helps with things like how to spell the name of the places to ensure the accuracy of information that we interpret.  At times we have the call at very short notice at the beginning of the emergency event and then for ongoing broadcasts we normally know the day/night before that we need to be available.




What are the biggest differences between "day-to-day" interpreting and interpreting a press conference?  

In “day-to-day” interpreting we potentially have more time to prepare or get a feel for the job we are at and we are usually able to ask for clarification, if needed. Also, in most interpreting jobs you don’t have a bank of television news cameras starting at you and you’re not standing with the Premier and other officials.


Have you ever been recognised from people who have seen you on television?  

I have had a few people that said they recognised me but generally its people I already know!


Angela is a full time interpreter for Auslan Connections, a national interpreting agency specialising in Auslan interpreting that endeavours to meet the language requirements of each client.

To find out more about Auslan Connections, visit the website: www.auslanconnections.com.au

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