Learn how rush translations help emergencies and how to be prepared for unexpected situations with expert translation services.

In times of emergency, effective communication becomes paramount.

Being able to understand and be understood can be a matter of life or death in emergencies. Rush translations — i.e., translations that are produced within a tight deadline, usually within 24 hours of the original request and some regulations requiring translation turnaround in as low as 4 hours — play a critical role in breaking language barriers when communication is especially urgent. These services can ensure that vital information reaches those who need it most.

It’s especially common for public health organizations, emergency departments, and public information offices to request rush translations to facilitate urgent communication. For example, local health departments might request rush translations of a document warning members of the community about a disease outbreak, while a hospital emergency room might need to rush translate a patient’s old medical documents from a foreign language to give them adequate care.

The urgency of rush translations means that there’s even less room for error when it comes to their production. While some agencies might be tempted to use quick and widely accessible tools like Google Translate to prepare an emergency translation, this is not a responsible approach, as it can create an unreliable translation.

Instead, it’s important for agencies involved in providing emergency services to work closely with a trusted language service provider (LSP) that’s able to provide quick translation services on the fly. Emergency organizations can form partnerships with LSPs to contract rush translation services before an emergency strikes, allowing for the delivery of quick translations when they’re needed.

In this blog post, we’ll explain why rush translations play such an important role in providing adequate emergency services. Read on to learn about the ins and outs of translation services for emergencies — or jump down to the Summary section for a quick recap.

Preparing Multilingual Communications in an Emergency

It can be challenging enough to create and distribute effective communications in one language when you’re handling an emergency. But it’s vital to emergency management that agencies provide equally accessible communications materials to individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP).

LSPs can help you tremendously with this, but there are also things that you can do on your end to streamline the process and ensure that your organization’s most urgent and time-sensitive communications are translated effectively.

Here are four important factors to consider when preparing multilingual communications in response to an emergency:


One common challenge associated with rush translations is the potential risk of reduced quality due to the need for speedy delivery. Emergency communications have to occur rapidly, as they typically deal with time-sensitive content.

But just because rush translations are produced according to a faster timeline than your usual translation, doesn’t mean that you can cut any corners. Here are some ways that your organization can ensure high-quality rush translations:

  • Establish vendor partnerships in advance so that you’re able to have a trusted LSP ready to assist you promptly.
  • Identify clear processes and points of contact to ensure smooth coordination between your agency and the LSP during emergencies.
  • Make sure the LSP uses a pre-designated project manager, along with a backup, to oversee rush translation projects effectively.
  • Conduct a kick-off meeting between your organization and the LSP to align processes, expectations, and backup plans.


They wouldn’t be called “rush” translations if there weren’t a need for speed. Emergency communications and documents are typically quite time-sensitive, so it’s important to request rush translations as soon as possible. 

Whether you’re facing federally imposed time constraints or simply have urgent communication needs, try employing the following strategies to help expedite the translation process:

  • Identify essential documents within your organization that require translation and have them readily available in pre-translated forms.
  • Leverage translation memory tools to accelerate the translation process by reusing previously translated segments.
  • Consult with your LSP’s Account Manager to explore customized approaches that can optimize turnaround time.
  • Identify areas of “on-demand” translation needs and utilize efficient solutions to bridge communication gaps temporarily.
  • Utilize communication technologies like AvantPortal to streamline collaboration and minimize overhead delays.
  • Prioritize urgent requests to ensure critical information reaches the intended audience promptly.


The need for fast turnaround and additional requirements can often lead to higher costs for rush translations. And it makes sense — when a rush translation request comes in, LSPs and their translators may have to put other projects on the back burner, or expand the number of linguists on a project, to ensure the timely delivery of your translation.

Plus, emergency services may also require additional considerations and add-ons, such as a trauma-informed care qualifications or HIPAA compliance. However, strategic planning can help optimize the use of language services while minimizing expenses:

  • Prepare in advance by developing a glossary or style guide to ensure consistency and reduce translation time.
  • Utilize translation memory (TM) tools like AvantMemory to leverage previous translations by reducing repeated translations to save money.
  • Explore alternative solutions and consult with your LSP to find cost-effective approaches that meet your specific needs.
  • Streamline internal processes to minimize overhead costs and maximize efficiency.


Maintaining confidentiality is crucial for many organizations, and the level of required confidentiality may vary. Each organization and document will have different requirements — an emergency management agency producing public-facing communications will of course have fewer confidentiality restrictions (if any) than a hospital requesting a rush translation of a patient’s medical documents.

To ensure that your LSP understands and meets your confidentiality needs, consider doing the following:

  • Determine if your LSP should perform work exclusively within the United States or with US-based linguists.
  • Communicate compliance requirements, such as adherence to HIPAA regulations or specific data regulations.
  • Choose an LSP that offers HIPAA-compliant technology (for example, AvantShield) and secure systems.
  • Verify if the LSP has dedicated IT and quality assurance departments, along with ISO certifications, to protect any sensitive information that needs to be held confidentially and securely.


In emergencies, effective communication is vital, and rush translations help bridge language barriers, ensuring critical information is conveyed promptly. Here are some important factors that agencies must consider when commissioning rush translation services from LSPs.

  • Quality: Just because a rush translation is produced quickly doesn’t mean it can be any less accurate. Securing a vendor partnership with an LSP that you trust allows you to secure high-quality translation services that are delivered quickly.
  • Speed: Rush translations usually need to be delivered within 24 hours — sometimes even sooner. Prepare in advance by translating essential documents ahead of time and setting in place clear processes with your partner LSP.
  • Cost: The tighter your turnaround time is, the more expensive it’ll probably be to produce a translation. You can work closely with your LSP to manage the costs and make things more cost-effective by using TM tools and creating a style guide to streamline things a bit.
  • Confidentiality: Depending on the type of documents your agency needs to translate, you may need to consider certain confidentiality regulations, like HIPAA, for example. Make sure your partner LSP is aware of your confidentiality needs and can meet them.

Managing emergencies is stressful — but the right LSP can ease the burden of producing multilingual communications. AvantPage is proud to provide rush translations to all kinds of emergency management organizations and agencies.

Reach out to us today at [email protected] or (530) 750-2040 to learn more about how we can help you manage your multilingual emergency communications effectively.