A day in the life of Basin Electric Alarm Monitor/Service Dispatcher

From a distance, Donavon Dick watched as a bouquet of pheasants rutted and scratched in a field near Sidney, Nebraska. In a blink, the serene scene was disrupted by a hawk, swooping in to snatch a pheasant for lunch. The bird struggled valiantly and successfully, and the hawk flew away, talons empty.

Dick observed the National Geographic-like conflict at the Sidney 345-kilovolt substation from more than 525 miles away while monitoring cameras from Basin Electric’s security headquarters in Bismarck, North Dakota. It’s one of his many duties as an alarm monitor/service dispatcher for the co-op’s security and response services (SRS), where he splits his time between security and dispatch.

Donavon Dick, alarm monitor/service dispatcher, stands in front of Basin Electric Headquarters.

He started at Basin Electric as a service dispatcher in 2012. After earning a degree in criminal justice, Dick moved to alarm monitoring in 2014 where he works 12-hour shifts from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., spending most of his time in security and then working in dispatch as needed, particularly during times of high call volumes.

On the security side, Dick monitors cameras, access logs, and alarms throughout the Headquarters complex and at the cooperative’s remote facilities that are not staffed around the clock, like Transmission System Maintenance (TSM) outposts and distributed generation facilities. He also conducts on-site security rounds at the Bismarck and Menoken, North Dakota, facilities. “We check the doors, check for smoke or water damage, anything that’s unusual or could be a hazard. We check fence lines, gates, and make sure no one can enter,” he says.

Most camera and alarm alerts are innocuous. Procedures are in place so security knows who should be onsite and when. If Dick does get an alert that needs investigating, he contacts the on-call personnel at the site, and together they determine whether law enforcement should be contacted.

Many times, it’s simply employees who are still working on-site, or wildlife, which he finds entertaining. “You’ll see the same animals night after night, the same coyotes, rabbits, and skunks — the skunks seem to eat bugs,” he says.

Read about a day in the life of Donavon in the Basin Today story “A day in the life of Alarm Monitor/Service Dispatcher Donavon Dick,” found in the Fall 2020 issue.

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