Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: A Dispatcher Shares Details on Treadmill and Bike Benefits

Posted by Michael Spath on Jun 6, 2016 2:09:27 PM


Treadmill and Bike Desks Straight from the Horses Mouth: A Comm CenterIn May of 2014, we purchased our Dispatch treadmill and stationary bike through Xybix, the provider of our workstation furniture (though I don't believe you need to have Xybix furniture to make the Lifespan Fitness equipment functional). We bought the TR5000DT (lowest maintenance, longest life). I don't know if the bike has a model number.

We have six workstation positions, normally staff from two to five positions, and placed the treadmill on one of our six positions. All six positions can do all call taking and dispatching functions. The treadmill can be moved if needed, but it's not an easy operation to do so, so it has essentially remained at that position since we installed it (I believe we moved it once when we had to reconfigure some electrical for a CPE upgrade).

The key to our successful purchase and implementation: The Chief went to bat with the Risk Manager on behalf of the Dispatchers' health and well-being. I don't need a national study to tell me that 9-1-1 Dispatchers are stressed (but there are studies available); nor do I need an expert to tell me that movement helps the body deal with stress (but there are books like "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" that can explain it). Our Chief had our backs 100% when Risk Management and other Management raised questions. I have no doubt that is why we had such an easy time of it.

How it ended up: no waiver, no policy, no procedures; we simply said: Be safe and share. Dispatchers know not to work a primary radio channel while on the treadmill or bike because you can't have a foot pedal on a moving treadmill. They are speed-restricted, so you can only go so fast (no running, but a fast walk is possible).

Two years in as of last month and here's what we've seen so far:

  • Number of injuries: 0.
  • Number of complaints from dispatchers: 0.
  • Number of times officers/callers have complained about the calltaker/dispatcher being on a treadmill while performing their job: 0.  
  • Number of miles walked - easily in the 1000's. (We had one dispatcher who walked a full marathon over the course of her shift: 26.2 miles in less than eight hours.)

Not all of our dispatchers use the treadmill; I'd say it's about 2 out of 3 that use it; about 1 out of 3 that use it on a regular basis. It gets used every day, often for hours at a time.

We are in uniforms. Dispatchers can wear "workplace-appropriate" exercise attire while on the treadmill or bike, changing back into their uniform as soon as practical.

I can say with complete certainty that the installation of the treadmill and bike have been the most positive change I have ever seen in a Comm Center. Ever. While there are many contributing factors at play here, there has been a fundamental shift in the culture of our Center. Positivity is on the rise; their collective ability to deal with the constant negativity of hearing complaints and reacting to crisis situations is better than ever. I believe the treadmill and bike both play a role in those changes. I can't say exactly why it has worked, but I can say that it has.

All that being said, please let me know if I can be of further assistance by contact me directly. And no, in case you're wondering, I am not a spokesperson for Xybix or LifeSpan Fitness.

-Mike Spath
Sunnyvale Dept of Public Safety, Sunnyvale, CA

Xybix Health Treadmill

Topics: Employee Health