Thread: Shift Schedules

  1. #1
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    Question Shift Schedules

    Howdy, all. I'm currently applying to be a 911 call-taker at a county communications center, and was curious as to how folks deal with odd shift schedules. This center works 2 12-hour days, 2 12-hour nights, and 4 days off. I'm curious as to how people handle the switch from day work to night work. Stay up late? Drink lots of caffeine? Just grin and bear it? Let's hear some suggestions.

  2. #2
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    MikeE-631's Avatar
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    Cool

    I'm not a dispatcher, but on my old job, I used to work 12 hour day and night shifts, alternating every week, and usually for 2 or 3 nights in a row, so it's somewhat similar. Caffeine never really worked for me, so I always just toughed it out. What I found was that mostly, there are just a couple of really tough hours, usually around 1, 2, or 3 am and after that I'm fine again. So, in expectance of this, I would always make sure that I'm somehow busier during that time span, to keep me up and to make time go by faster. I understand though, that you can't increase the number of alarms but maybe there are other things that need to be done that can be saved for the "dragging" time. Another thing is, when coming off the last night shift, I found it to be a good idea to quickly get back into the normal sleep rythm. I did this by only sleeping maybe 3 or 4 hours in the morning, then going to bed at the normal time in the evening.
    Hope this helps,

    Regards,

    Mike

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    The center I works for works 4 10hrs shifts. I think that it would be easier to work all one shift each week. We sign up for teh schedule every month or two, it goes in order of sinority.

  4. #4
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    Default Schedule

    I cant offer much advise on rotating shifts since I cant stand them myself. I could never get used to changing my sleep schedule back and forth like that. I do want to ask ramseycl how their 10 hour schedule works since we are currently looking at other shifts to try.

    Thanks SRCFIRE
    LOOK BEYOND THE DARKNESS OF TODAY FOR THE LIGHT OF ANOTHER TOMORROW

  5. #5
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    Talking

    Dispatchers shouldn't be working 12 hour shifts but that's a whole other topic. We all bid by seniority. You can choose whatever shift you want. Which means you can bid straight days, eves or mids. I chose straight mids with Fri/Sat off. So I don't rotate. But if I were to choose all different shifts then I would rotate every 3 months. Gives your body a chance to get used to it.

  6. #6
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    MrJim is absolutely right! 12 hours shifts are wrong for public safety personnel! There is no way that you can be as alert and healthy minded in your 11th hour on duty as you were during the 1st 8 hours! I should know; I've done it both ways. The county fire-rescue com center where I have worked for 19 years changed to 12 hour shifts a year ago. Prior to that we worked rotating 8 hr. shifts, changing shift EVERY week. It was bad, but over the years I had worked out a "system" for living on each shift.

    The 12 hr. schedule is worse. We change shift EVERY week! Days this week, nights next week; then back to days. It is horrible! Our county police dispatchers did better. They work STEADY 12 hr. shifts, days OR nights. But you can hear the cops and dispatchers getting cranky with each other on the radio, by the 10th hr.

    Yeah, I know, you get 4 days off every week! Wonderful, if you survive the three 12 hr. shifts in a row. But your 1st and maybe 2nd day off, you're useless; the 3rd & 4th days, you become human again, and then you start all over. And, oh yeah, seniority means NOTHING re: scheduling in our center. Everybody works the same rotation. Ya' see, the chief wouldn't allow steady shifts, 'cause then he'd never get to see the night workers. BTW, most of my co-workers think this schedule is great. I'm in a very small minority.

    My choice for best shift: steady 4PM to Midnight, with mid-week days off. My mental peak is about 9-10PM, making it very hard to go to sleep early.

    No we don't have 20 year retirement. Retirement in our county (except for the cops) is age 55 to 62. So I have at least 4 years to go, maybe 6. We'll see.

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    MikeE-631 is right on with this. I work for PD with the normal goofy schedule that we are all blessed to have. It always takes some getting used to but you should be in the routine within 4-6 weeks. Caffeine is a big no-no for me as well. During those down times I find busywork to do like updating/purging files, cleaning the comm center etc.

  8. #8
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    Smile Help save our 12 hour shifts!!

    My services Comms Centres voluntarily went onto 12 hour shifts about 5 years ago and I have to say I love em! Prior to this we used to work 3 shifts; 6am-2pm / 2pm-10pm / 10pm-6am. we used to do one full week of nights, Monday to Monday and have 2 days off before starting back at 2pm Wednesday. This was followed by a quick change to get onto days at 6am on Friday. This is no way to live your life.

    With the 12 hours, our nights are split over the month and we get 4 days off after one set of nights. Much much better. My employers on the other hand don't like us working them. But this is only for financial reasons, eg overtime payments. I have'nt really noticed any depreciation in alertness between the two sets of shifts. To be honest
    3am is 3am whatever pattern you are working, its how you adjust to it that matters. Plus, unlike outside in the world, there is always somthing to be done, housekeeping on the system, viewing past incidents for quality assurance etc.
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

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    our dispatch center works 12 hour shifts. one week i will work 4 shifts and the next i work 3 shifts. this is the schedule that i like the best. just like having a 4 day weekend i guess.

    as for switching shifts back and forth, mike's idea of sleeping for about 2-3 hours in the morning and then getting back up also works for me.
    NREMT-P\ Reserve Volunteer Firefighter\Reserve Police Officer
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  10. #10
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    Default Hours

    Hi there,

    I work the two 12 hour days and two 12 hour nights shift. Its not that bad, give yourself 2 to 3 weeks to get used to it. I recommend trying to stay up late as possible after the second day shift rather then going to bed at a normal hour. The routine of 4 on and 4 off isn't bad. And check to see what happens with the forces. In my depatment, a dispatcher can be in this room up to 18 hours!
    HAVE FUN AND GOOD LUCK!
    SunShine DayDream

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