CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Franklin County (Pa.) Department of Emergency Services Wednesday activated a new telephone alert system a month earlier than planned after an 86-year-old woman went missing in Chambersburg.
Retta A. Schenck walked out of Penn Hall assisted living center on U.S. 11 at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Chambersburg police said the woman, who has trouble hearing, was found at 8:15 a.m.
Emergency Services Director Dave Donohue said his department used a new alert system to send messages to more than 24,000 telephone numbers in the Chambersburg area.
“It worked like it’s supposed to,” Donohue said.
With a combination of grant, state and county funding, the South Central Task Force purchased the software system. The project has been in development for three years and was set to debut in a few weeks.
The South Central Task Force is a multicounty emergency services organization.
“Right now, we’re just using the white pages database. We can add (devices like) cell, BlackBerry,” Donohue said.
Residents can register for voice or text messages at www.franklindes.org.
Donohue said system operators will be creating databases for incidents such as properties that could be potentially affected by hazardous materials emergencies. The files will account for wind direction and speed when establishing the plume of a threat, allowing those property owners to receive evacuation notification in an emergency.
The system, an Ever Bridge program known locally as South Central Alert, will contain information about floodplains. It can also notify residents and businesses of roads closed for special events.
Agencies such as school districts and water treatment plants can work with the county to create databases for people to be notified in various incidents, Donohue said.
Officials are also discussing if and how to use the system for tornado warnings and alerts about escaped inmates.