Preparedness & Recovery

York County 911 Paging System Returns in Limited Capacity

The paging system to contact fire and EMS responders had been down since Saturday, July 29.

by David Weissman, The York Dispatch, Pa. / August 1, 2017
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(TNS) - The York County, Pa., 911 fire and EMS paging system is now operating in a limited capacity.

The paging system to contact fire and EMS responders had been down since Saturday, July 29.

The county now has seven high-powered sites online offering limited coverage, though each tower is running independently on internal timing, which may cause "garbled messages" in overlap areas, according to York County 911's Facebook page.

The southeastern part of the county will continue having trouble receiving pages, and the county still does not know when the system will be back up to full capacity.

Roxie Tate, lead training supervisor for the 911 center, said all fire and EMS units have been advised to staff their radio transmission stations, and all dispatches since the issue first began have been answered in a timely manner.

County spokesman Mark Walters said the issue has not affected communications with police or communications from the public to the 911 center.

"To our knowledge, (it) has not up to this point adversely affected the public that we know of," Walters said.

The issue stems from a firmware malfunction on communications equipment that has prevented the GPS signal from reaching the satellite that sends pages to fire and EMS personnel, Walters explained.

Walters said the county was unable to contact the manufacturer of the firmware over the weekend, but contact was made on Monday, and potential solutions are being discussed.

He declined to name the manufacturer, but he said others using the same manufacturer, including Dauphin County, were dealing with the same issues.

Potential fixes include updating the firmware, which could have been completed as soon as later Monday, or replacing the equipment, which could take several days, Walters said.

Replacing the equipment would cost the county $23,000, according to Walters.

Walters said the firmware is supposed to be updated every 19½ years — and the software was last updated 19½ years ago on Saturday.

The county was unaware of the firmware's limitation until now, and the manufacturer did not notify the county, according to Walters.

The county has contracted with this manufacturer since 2008, he added.

Asked whether the county would switch manufacturers in light in this issue, Walters said that option is being reviewed.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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