A 911 communications center is host to many dark calls. For 911 dispatchers who are responsible for answering these critical phone calls, death is on the phone daily. I spent 14 years as a paramedic in Denver, and I remember that one day my unit alone saw eight cases dead on arrival (DOA). Later on, we were able to make our way to one of the local parks to look at green grass, beautiful lakes, and pleasant foliage in order to soothe some of the pain we had witnessed.
Working in a 911 communications center, you might not get this same luxury. Dispatchers often have to look at large black steel consoles after these calls. Is there a connection between morale, death, and black cold steel?
I’m not sure if we have any scientific evidence of that. But, personally I don’t like fluorescent lights or too much white light when I’m inside. I do, however, enjoy a soft low light with lighter colors. Black doesn’t do it for me. For many people like myself, selecting the latest in cheerful and light finish selections can help keep morale up while slaving away in a cubicle.
Why Use Black Steel?
If black steel offers such a grim vibe, why did we ever start using it in the first place? Well, we are told that steel helps keep the computers cooler by dissipating heat. This may be true, but it is also true that whisper-quiet fans in cabinets can keep the computers just as cool if not cooler. These high-end fans replace all of the air in the cabinets four times per minute. The key is to keep air moving around the computer, which is why laptops have fans in them.
We are also told that we need black steel because end users will destroy the panels. However, the black steel is very thin, and dents tend to be noticeable and permanent once the damage has been done.
Are There Other Options?
There are other solutions available, such as acoustical panels with finish selections. These tend to be visually pleasing. These are smaller panels that can easily be changed out in the event that they begin to look worn or tired. They can even be changed out quickly and easily if someone spills something on them. The tiles can be completely updated to make a 911 comm center look new and fresh for about 5-7% of what new consoles will cost in the years to come.
If you are still nervous and want hard panels made of steel, you can select a melamine hard tile, and you can still choose from a variety of finishes.
These tiles don’t ding or dent.
Something to Think About
When you are updating your current center or getting a new one, put some serious thought into what all black steel will look like in your center. Will it have a negative impact on your 911 dispatchers? The next time you visit an office building, look for black steel. I bet you will be hard-pressed to find it.