Dispatcher workstations getting comfort upgrade
by Christopher Crosby, Staff Writer Sun Journal July 29, 2014
PARIS — Emergency dispatchers in Oxford County must be seated in chairs, staring at a monitor up to 12 hours a day. Now those workstations are getting a little more comfortable.
Dispatchers' consoles at the Oxford County Regional Communications Center will be swapped out for more ergonomic models later this summer. The purchase is fully funded through the federal government.
New consoles can be tuned to the individual dispatchers' height and preferences, which will help ease discomfort over long shifts, according to Director of Communications James Miclon.
The customizable workstations are controlled by a joystick. The four screens on each desk can be retracted, lowered or raised. Most importantly, desks will give dispatchers a chance to stand for a period, and then lower their desks to sit again.
The payoff, according to dispatcher Beverly Stevens, is the advantage in concentration — standing helps blood flow and keeps the mind active.
"It doesn't matter how traumatic the last call was, you have to be on point for the next," Stevens said.
And that's exactly what officials hope the consoles will do.
On a typical weekday, the dispatch center can field 80 to 85 calls, Miclon said, which often involve employee teamwork to alert fire, police and medical personnel to emergencies.
While one call is being worked on, the next may come in.
"Sometimes there's a lull, but we're always glued to our stations," Stevens said.
The change comes 16 years after the original desks were installed, when the dispatch center was built as a walled-off expansion to the district courthouse.
The current units are limited in their adjustments. Keyboards and chairs can be raised and lowered accordingly, but employees can't stand at their desks and monitors can only be positioned a limited number of ways.
Retrofitting the climate-controlled dispatcher room won't fall upon local taxpayers either. The entire project is being funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"We're trying to make their jobs comfortable," Miclon said. "This is all about the health and safety of our dispatchers."
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