New treadmill desks allow dispatchers to talk, walk - News, Weather & Sports

New treadmill desks allow dispatchers to talk, walk


When you talk to a Johnson County dispatcher now, they may also be taking a leisurely stroll.

Johnson County has installed three treadmill desks at the work stations for 911 dispatchers. Officials say the treadmill desks combat the sedentary nature of the job, promoting wellness and expanding life expectancies.

But don't expect to get an out-of-breath dispatcher answering your 911 call.

"They only go two miles an hour. There is no running, no jogging," said Johnson County Sheriff's Office Deputy Tom Erickson. "It is simply a slow walk. We can't have people out of breath while they are trying to dispatch."

Master Deputy Matt Magee said he hasn't lost his breath while testing out the equipment.

"I use it on a regular basis. I work at 3 in the morning," Magee said. "It's kind of nice to come in and start on the treadmill."

Officials believe moving will keep the dispatchers alert especially those working overnights or odd hours. Dispatchers also are giving access to a traditional desk and chair.

"One of the big differences between being a dispatcher versus most desk jobs is that they cannot get up and walk away," Erickson explained. "They have to stay at their desk."

Studies show sitting for eight to 12 hours a day can hurt your health.

"People that sit eight or more hours a day have a 40 percent more likelihood of dying within 15 years of retirement. That is significant," Erickson said.

A dispatcher can easily take a half step to the side to end their walking while handling a call.

"They know the number one priority is the people we serve and the officers we serve," Erickson said. "Walking on a treadmill becomes very secondary."

In a matter of months, dispatchers have walked more than 1,000 miles.

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