Walking while they work: Treadmill-desks installed for 911 dispatchers in Johnson County

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OLATHE, Kan. — If you have a desk job and spend about eight hours a day on your behind, what’s happening at the Johnson County Communication Center may be something for the suggestion box at your place of employment.

They have added four new treadmill-desks there, so dispatchers dealing with 911 calls can relieve some of that stress.

“We don’t really get a lot of breaks to get up and walk around. We’re pretty much stuck at our consoles,” said Heather Beabout, who has been a dispatcher for about eight years.

The treadmills move as fast as two miles per hour. The dispatchers can slow them down or step off of them if they get too busy or distracted.

“It takes a little bit to get used to walking and typing, but it’s a pretty quick learning curve for most people,” Heather said.

Heather has set a goal for herself, hoping to walk on the treadmill 30 minutes to an hour each day.

“It definitely makes the shift go a little better and gives me a little energy,” she said.

The treadmills cost about $1,500 each, but Tom Erickson, public information officer for the  Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, believes they are a good investment.

“Is it a good value? Are they worth the investment? What good would they actually do? And all of that research led to the conclusion that yes, they’re well worth it,” Erickson said. “We have had dispatchers that have actually died in their chair here at work. We don`t want that to happen ever again.”

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