Allegany County emergency services seeks public’s cooperation as public health emergency worsens


Lt. Todd Bowman (l) and Allegany County Emergency Services Director James Pyles discuss the overload of calls to the 911 center during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

CUMBERLAND, Md. (WDVM) — Allegany County was the last county in Maryland to register a positive COVID-19 test, but Wednesday things turned for the worst. Two COVID-19 positive cases were reported within the week, and a third reported Thursday.

Meanwhile, EMS officials in Cumberland are overwhelmed with calls, many of a non-emergency nature. Allegany County EMS Director James Pyles is fielding inquiries about what constitutes a non-essential business, for example. He asks these callers to use the following non-emergency number for such inquiries: 301-759-5000, or just 2-1-1.

“We field 1,300 9-1-1- calls a week,” says Pyles. “That’s a heavy burden on our operations.”

Meanwhile, Delegate Mike McKay (R – Allegany, Washington Counties) is in frequent touch with Governor Larry Hogan’s emergency management team to help with needs in his western Maryland district and has high praise for the quick response for help.

“His [the governor’s] team is on the front lines,” says McKay. “I typically hear back in 20 to 30 minutes.”

Pyles is in touch daily with EMS chiefs in other Maryland counties and is preparing for any conceivable eventuality. “The Allegany County health department is doing incredible work preparing for a bed surge,” he says.

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