Wise County’s 911 center is getting a makeover, and Communications Manager Susan Gomez learned two weeks ago that money from the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) will cover the bulk of the cost.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office has been reimbursed $70,500 for the project by NCTCOG, and Monday dispatchers will move into the conference room so work can begin.
The project includes expanding the center from four stations to five, specially made furniture for each station and new carpet. The approximate total cost is $80,000.
Gomez has been working on the design for almost a year and looks forward to additional workspace and the ability to offer dispatchers a more comfortable working environment.
“I’ve been looking at furniture and went to other agencies to look at their setups,” she said. “We have a big center, but once you get four, five or six people in here, it gets crazy.”
The 911 center is located inside the Wise County Sheriff’s Office. The room currently has three fully-equipped stations and a fourth station that is used as backup when needed. Each station has three computer monitors used by dispatchers, one each for 911, the in-house system and the radio.
“The furniture is just regular office furniture, very square, and the monitors are all spread out,” said Gomez.
The new furniture, by Xybix, is specially made and ergonomically designed for dispatchers.
The monitors are all mounted on a monitor tree, central to where the dispatcher sits, and the consoles move up and down, allowing dispatchers, who work 12-hour shifts, to sit or stand at their station.
“That’s probably the best feature,” said Gomez. “The consoles raise up and down so they can stand and dispatch versus sitting. Sometimes you just can’t leave your station so that will be nice.”
Gomez described each individual station like a pod, almost wrapping around the dispatcher, with built-in heating and air conditioning, a bookshelf and a storage cabinet. The furniture is made with acoustic absorbing materials, which should help reduce the noise level.
She expects the project to be complete by Oct. 9.
Sheriff David Walker said the remodel gives the department space needed to expand in the future, too.
“With the rate we’re doing things and the rate of our call volume, we’re eventually going to want to add to our 911 center,” he said, “and this gives us room to grow.”