Guest Blog Post by Samantha, Dispatch Supervisor at Fenton PD, MI.
When I first started dispatching I had no idea what I was getting into. I had no idea the array of emotions and tasks I would face, the tribulations and triumphs, the joy and the sorrow. I never knew I was getting on the biggest roller coaster of all. I soon figured it out though. I learned to hate the lows; negative coworkers, bad morale, citizens taking their bad day out on me and the days where you just don’t feel cut out for the job. But oh how I love the highs; the adrenaline of working a good storm, a chase or a structure fire, a thank you from a stranger or being acknowledged for a job well done.
Unfortunately the job takes a toll on all of us, both physically and emotionally. For myself, the physical is more frustrating. With two kids under the age of 5 my life outside of work can be hectic. Throw in my husband’s busy schedule and goodbye gym time, hello 15 extra pounds! I started doing lunges and squats at my desk in a last ditch effort to do SOMETHING.
Then something amazing happened. Kelly Rasmussen, CEO of Success Communications Inc. said they needed speakers for a new conference, a conference that would be all about 911 dispatchers. 9114911. Anyone who has met Kelly or Michelle or taken a Success class knows that when it comes to motivating they’re the best in the business. I decided to take my newfound curiosity and pitch it to them. I offered to talk about the negative side effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Imagine my surprise when Kelly emailed to tell me she loved the idea and wanted me to speak at the first motivational conference dedicated to 911! I started to anxiously compile information for my presentation and what I found FLOORED me. I knew my diet included way too much fast food and pop and way too little exercise but I had no idea that one of the most detrimental things I was doing was something else entirely. I was sitting. All. Day. Long. I read studies and health journals and health blogs. Did you know that sitting too much could increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease and depression? Did you know that it could shorten your life? We’re supposed to be saving lives not shortening our own! According to one study the average American sits 6-8 hours a day. The average dispatcher (according to a small study I conducted) sits more than 10 hours per day. If the average American cuts that time in half they can add 2 years to their life. TWO YEARS! Imagine what dispatchers could add if we got up and off our butts!
Luckily for us this is so easy to fix. STAND UP! 80% of the dispatchers I surveyed have stand up consoles in their center. Standing up with minimal movement burns 2 ½ times more calories than sitting and helps fight the risks associated with sitting. For those who want to kick it up a notch, the answer is just as simple. There are tons of stretches and exercises you can do right at your desk (calf raises, squats and lunges to name a few.) Google, Pinterest and even YouTube are your best friends. Search “work exercises” or “stretches at your desk,” print some out and challenge your coworkers. Don’t just sit there, get up and keep taking the calls! We’re a group of people far too awesome to let sitting take such a toll on us.
To those of you who were at the conference, I hope you’re standing up as you read this (I typed it standing up!) I hope you’re making that extra effort so we can all enjoy a few more extra years when we reach that coveted retired status. Until then, ride the dispatch rollercoaster. Brave the lows, enjoy the highs and whether you’re in a rut or just love meeting other dispatchers, sign up for next years 9114911. I hope to see you all there!
For more check out “9 exercises to do at your desk.”
(Images of stretches are found below.)
Download Samantha’s PowerPoint presentation on wellness here.