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Police dispatchers pedal away stress on the job

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O’FALLON, IL (KTVI) - Erik Mensen might work a stressful job as a dispatcher.

‘'We are the first point of contact for service for emergency or non-emergency,'’ he says. ‘'Police or fire or medical, it's everything from ‘my house is burning down’ or ‘my wife is having a baby.’”

And while he has a handle on his job, there are no handle bars on his desk.

‘'I don't want to break a sweat,” says Mensen. ‘'I don't want to be answering 911 out of breath.”

But this week, Mensen is exerting some energy on the O’Fallon, Illinois Public Safety Department’s new exercycle. Their telecommunications center is taking the idea of employee wellness for a spin.

‘'They can pedal away, which promotes the blood flowing, which promotes the muscles being relaxed, and it gives them more energy for the critical thinking they have to do,” says Lt. James Cavins.

‘'If we have a potentially stressful call, something that works on you emotionally and physically, it’s mentally emotionally and physically taxing,” says dispatcher Michelle Foster.

So far it’s only a bicycle built for one, but the department plans to add two more pedal-powered seats for their dispatchers.

‘'I go hours,” says Foster. ‘'I see how many hours I can go. Calories are important, but I like to go longevity, to see how far I can go.”

Sometimes that’s 30 to 40 miles in a 12-hour shift. One week into the program and it's already being considered a success. So while the O’Fallon Police Department continues to fight crime, their dispatchers will be fighting calories.

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