Your 911 Operating Environment: More Than Just A Place To Sit

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Megan Lewis, Public Safety Manager and Tanya Lee, EvansCare Manager are featured contributors in this month’s Florida NENA Quarterly Newsletter.


Ergonomics in Your 911 Environment: More Than Just A Place To Sit

Co-written by Megan Lewis, Public Safety Manager for Evans and Tanya Lee, Manager for EvansCare

“Ergonomics” is defined as “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment”. When exploring improvements to your 911 center, we often only focus on the workstations as being ergonomic, evaluating sit-to-stand features, monitor adjustments, etc. What is often forgotten is that ergonomics goes beyond just the human mechanics needed, but proper lighting, acoustics, layout and proper maintenance.

How do you optimize lighting in your 911 Dispatch Center?

The two biggest fatigue factors in a dispatch center are lighting and acoustics.

I know what you’re thinking, “my center is always dark and it’s great!” Did you know that your eyes work and strain harder against the constant glare of your screens with darkness around you, rather than if you kept those “bright” lights on? You may think the light on the computer or TV stays the same, but it is constantly changing, forcing your eyes to adjust and change as well. Now think about that activity happening over a 10-12 hour period...don’t you get exhausted just thinking about it?! Many studies are being done and implemented into centers and control rooms around the world that mimic outdoor sunlight conditions and how our body adjusts from morning to night with natural light. The cooler light aids in productivity and decreases depression and mood swings that occur by staying in a stagnant environment all day.

How do you control 911 center Acoustics?

Much of the same can be said for the acoustics in your 911 center; uncontrolled noise is one of the primary concerns for a communications center. Background noise can be incredibly distracting and leads to several negative results, commonly reported in 911 centers. We must think beyond the acoustics around the workstations themselves and consider the room as a whole. Wall paneling, carpet (sorry, but it’s the best for sound absorption!), foam, etc. They all need to be factored in to design of your control center. Wall paneling is more than just putting some panels on the walls; there is a strategic design and formula to how these are placed around the room and can be done with a proper acoustic study. Once you’ve placed value on the 911 center as a whole, you’ll want to protect your investment! With vendors constantly in and out, IT adjustments, new hardware, etc., proper operation of your equipment can become compromised. Your center and equipment cost a lot of money; maintaining your equipment affects not only your investment, but it also lets your people know they matter. It is an investment in staff as much as it is the equipment, etc.

Finally, attention to all of these details affects the performance for each and every call and/or task. Creating an optimum work environment decreases the likelihood of a mistake being made and creating a happier, healthier place to work!


Florida NENA Quarterly Newsletter


Topics: Communication Centers, Command Consoles, Dispatch Console Furniture, Ergonomic Consoles