State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

County to Test Emergency Alert System

by on May 14, 2019 7:37 PM

Centre County will conduct a test of the CodeRED emergency alert system at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

The alert will be sent to all voice and text phone numbers and email addresses registered to receive the notifications countywide, according to Centre Region Emergency Management Coordinator Shawn Kaufmann.

Centre County has subscribed to emergency communications network OnSolve's CodeRED mass notification system since 2003. Today, 59,448 phone numbers, 2,888 for text messages, 2,139 emails and 17 telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD) are registered in the system, Kaufmann said.

For cell phone voice calls or text messages, as well as emails, however, users must opt-in by registering online.

Wednesday's test call should come from 1-866-419-5000, Kaufmann said.

In the past two years, alerts have been sent five times. Over the years, notifications have been sent for evacuations and shelter-in-place messages, local missing children (Amber Alerts are used for statewide alerts), and criminal activity posing a potential danger. Kaufmann said the alerts can be used for any emergency situation that may impact the public.

The emergency official in charge of an incident or disaster decides when an alert is sent. Chiefs of police and emergency management coordinators are the primary users, according to Kaufmann.

In January, State College did not utilize the system when an assailant fled P.J. Harrigan's after fatally shooting two people and critically wounding another. He was found a short time later at a Tussey Lane residence, where he broke in and killed a resident before killing himself. State College Police Chief John Gardner said in January that by the time the necessary immediate response was conducted and information gathered, the suspect had already been found and there had been no time to issue an alert.

"The system is used when the person in charge of the incident determines that in can be a benefit to the incident or the public," Kaufmann said on Tuesday. "In the case of a fast moving incident which the person in charge is attempting to gather information about the incident while the incident is ongoing, sometimes the incident is stabilized before an emergency alert is attempted."

Penn State has its own PSUAlert system which can be used during emergencies on or near campus and for other matters like class cancelations due to weather. The university, about 2 miles from P.J. Harrigan's but with off-campus students living closer, also did not use its alert system during the January shooting.

During localized emergencies, a polygon is drawn around the impacted area on a map in the CodeRED system and a notification is sent to all numbers registered in that area. It also will go to any CodeRED mobile app users who are in the area where the alert is being issued.

"In addition to signing up for the CodeRED system [online], we encourage Centre County residents and visitors to use the CodeRED Mobile Alert App," Kaufmann said. "The app will provide the user the ability to receive alerts in any area using CodeRED."

Anyone without access to the Internet who wants to enroll their phone number in CodeRED can contact the Centre County Emergency Communications administration office at call at (814) 355-6800.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
Next Article
Borough Council Discusses Next Steps After Osagie Investigation; Community Members Demand Action
May 14, 2019 4:52 PM
by Geoff Rushton
Borough Council Discusses Next Steps After Osagie Investigation; Community Members Demand Action
Disclaimer: Copyright © 2020 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

order food online