Franklin County unveils emergency alerting program

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

The Franklin County Department of Emergency Services unveiled its new emergency public alerting system a month Wednesday morning, May 18, when over 24,000 telephones in and around Chambersburg rang to announce that emergency workers were searching for a missing person, who walked away from a nursing home, in the area of Philadelphia Avenue near Wilson College.

The new system, known as South Central Alert, replaces and expands the reverse 9-1-1 capabilities of the communications center.  While currently using telephone numbers listed in the white pages, citizens and businesses can register any and all telephones to receive verbal and text messages related to emergency notifications by going to the department website at

Due to the vulnerability of the missing person, an elderly woman with visual and hearing impairment who was not dressed for the weather, county emergency management officials authorized the early activation of the system. Based on the alert, numerous phone calls were received offering assistance in searching and offering information. Fortunately, the missing person was found approximately 30 minutes after the alert was issued.

The alerting system is capable of using multiple means of identifying those who should be alerted, including geographical information, phone number and weather data.  In addition, the system is capable of integrating pre-recorded messaging, which can be used for planned event information such as announcing planned detours, or non-scripted messages for unique incidents.  Members of the public can register phone numbers from outside of the area which can be used for notification of incidents.  For example, it is possible to register family members in Franklin County who do not live at the same address.  

For more information regarding the system, or to register, contact Franklin County Department of Emergency Services at (717) 264-2813 or