UPDATE: York County 911 paging system for first responders now covers about 60% of the county

UPDATE: On Wednesday night, York County officials reported that 8 out of their 18 towers are functioning, which covers about 60% of the county. They also said that the purchase order for remaining equipment has been approved, which means they are just waiting for the new equipment to be shipped and installed before they can return to full capacity.

Officials also wanted to thank Dauphin County for loaning them equipment in the meantime.

 

YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- As of Monday, York County's 911 call center was still experiencing a communications problem from Saturday night.

The paging service the county uses is having trouble with GPS signals not reaching its satellites.

The system still works for anyone who needs to call 911 for help, but it can be challenging for first responders to get the message of where they need to go.

Most people in York County won't notice anything different if they call 911,  but the paging system outage does make a difference for EMS crews, and especially for volunteer firefighters who rely on those pages.

York County 911 call center has an emergency situation of it's own.

White Rose Ambulance vice-president of operations Ted Hake said "the crews can't reference their pager, to see the address, or the priority to respond to the call."

Wrightsville Fire and Rescue chief Chad Livelsberger said "every second counts. It's actually very scary at this point knowing that there could be a chance that we're not notified of an emergency."

The York County 911 paging system used to alert emergency responders via a GPS satellite is down due a software issue.

York County communications director Mark Walters said "this situation that we're presently experiencing is not affecting communications with police departments. It's also not affecting the public' ability to reach 911 dispatchers."

York County's Department of Emergency Services enacted a 'Plan B."

York County Communications Center lead training supervisor Roxie Tate said "for all the fire and EMS personnel to staff their station, the call will be voiced over the fire and ems dispatch talk groups, in which they'll hear that by just monitoring the radios."

The county also follows up with a phone call to make sure crews get the message, but some emergency responders aren't completely satisfied with the backup plan. Some say its taking a toll on many volunteer fire departments which are already short staffed.

"We're manned at least two people for 24/7, until we can get this system up and running," Livelsberger said.

"Normally they receive an audible alert on a pager, and they know there's a call. Now, they are listening to a radio, listening for the words 'York city,' or 'Station 250.' So, it's really stressful for our dispatchers," Hake said.

"I'm sure the county officials will work through it, and prevail, hopefully they'll hold whoever is responsible, accountable," Livelsberger said.

The county has been using the paging system for about ten years.

Walters declined to name the company that provides the paging service, but said the vendor failed to alert the county of a necessary software update.

County officials say they are working with the vendor on getting this fixed soon but that might not be until sometime tomorrow.