CALL CENTER UPGRADES

Marquette County dispatchers Kristie Buruse, left, and Alice Minarik stand at new work stations at Marquette County Central Dispatch. The emergency call center was recently reconfigured and new furniture was installed, including the work station desks shown. (Journal photo by Ryan Jarvi)

By RYAN JARVI
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE — Marquette County Central Dispatch recently completed a reconfiguration of its emergency call center and installation of new furniture and equipment.
“We have three work stations, and the old furniture that we had was about 15 years old, and with 24-7 use, it was worn out and needed to be changed,” said dispatch Manager Gary Johnson.
The dispatch center had set aside about $85,000 for the project, Johnson said, but it was completed in late February roughly $18,000 below budget.
“We had this project in the works for several years, and we have a contingency fund, an equipment replacement fund, that we were able to use,” he explained. “Over the … last several years, the computer equipment that we’ve added for our computer-aided dispatch, our new 911 telephone and new radios — the vast majority of those expenses we’ve been able to do with grant funds, which has allowed our contingency fund to remain in good shape.”
Johnson said part of the project realigned work stations in the dispatch center — which is located inside the Michigan State Police post in Negaunee Township — to allow for improved workspace. Dispatchers also received new furniture, something Johnson said is critical to both their work performance and comfort.
“They work … eight- and 12-hour shifts, and we have to try and provide as much comfort as we can for them because they’re not able to leave their work stations for more than a couple minutes at any time,” he said. “They don’t get a half-hour lunch break or anything like that, they eat right at the console. And … it’s important for them to be able to move around a little bit, so the consoles are completely adjustable. They (can) raise and lower both work surfaces.”
Johnson said the old furniture began to malfunction, with work surfaces unable to be moved, leaving dispatchers stuck in seated positions.
“One big thing that sounds minor, but that is a huge improvement is we’ve eliminated having to use three or four different keyboards for all the systems,” he added. “With this new layout, we’re able to share a single keyboard for all of our computer systems. That just helps the workflow when the dispatchers have to move from one computer to the next.”
The old furniture was installed in 2001, and since that time, Johnson said things in a dispatcher’s world have changed, particularly with equipment and additional computers.
“Back when the old furniture was installed, we had two computers and two computer monitors and then a radio,” he said. “Now, we’re up to five computers and eight monitors at a work station. So the new furniture is designed to accomodate all of that, where our old stuff wasn’t. We had computers sitting on the floor, that type of thing.”
Johnson said similar to what happened in 2001, service was never interrupted during the renovations or installation of new equipment.

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is rjarvi@miningjournal.net.