Cumberland Times-News

Local News

May 11, 2013

Emergency systems in place in Allegany County, including door-to-door notifications

CUMBERLAND — Various disaster warnings are in place in Allegany County but, if all else fails, communities would be notified in door-to-door contact by first responders.

Dick DeVore, director of the Department of Emergency Services in Allegany County, said last week he believes the county is “in a very strong position” in using technology to contact residents in the event of a public emergency.

A mainstay in the county’s emergency notification system is the Emergency Alert System. The system interrupts television and radio broadcasts with emergency messages that could be presented audibly or in a message scrolled at the bottom of a television screen.

Another alert system called Nixle Connect allows for residents to register to receive emergency messages on cell phones or through email. Residents may sign up for the service on the Allegany County website at

The county is also pursuing a reverse 911 messaging system that would allow the county to send emergency messages into communities through its 911 telephone data base. The county is seeking the technology through application with the federal government.

Social media sites are also used heavily by the county to immediately contact the public.

“The most powerful tools we have are the Twitter and Facebook social media outreach that allows for two-way communication. It also can be easily measured to determine how far we are reaching into the communities,” said DeVore. For example, last winter DeVore used the social media to seek snowfall totals and roadway conditions from residents throughout the county and the response was overwhelming.

With all that technology in place, what happens when the electrical service and cell phone service fails?

“Our default system in that case is to communicate by sending first responders door-to-door. Battery-powered radios are also recommended for use to receive broadcasted messages in the event of power outages. This gives individuals an opportunity to be plugged in with redundant systems,” said DeVore.

Emergency information is also communicated by an emergency alerting system called ALERTUS that has been employed in the Allegany County school system for the past five years.

“In light of recent events, security and effective communications for K-12 schools is more vital than ever before,”  said Roger Bennett, chief of the Allegany County 911 Joint Communications Division.

“The Allegany County Public School System has partnered with the Allegany County 911 Joint Communications Center for the operation of the ALERTUS system. The system addresses the complex issues involved with informing administration, faculty, students and visitors of emergency situations.

“With the use of an Alert Beacon located in each school, the 911 Joint Communications Center provides an audible alarm and instructions on how to react to an emergency situation to all or one school in real time as the incident changes. The speed of the system is based on preset alert activation scenarios that are quickly pushed out to schools for quick, immediate action,” said Bennett.

The system is tested weekly by the 911 center. The actual emergencies are made up of a few weather occurrences but mostly for law enforcement action near schools. “If we have police activity near a school, the school is locked down until the all clear is given by the appropriate authorities,” said Bennett.

The board of education has funded 100 percent of the cost of the alert system since its launch in 2008.

“The value of the system cannot be matched by cost. The 911 center’s ability to lock down or evacuate a school as an incident develops is priceless,” said Bennett.

DeVore believes Allegany County is in “a very strong position to reach citizens in the county.”

“We will not rely on any one single system to access and disseminate information. We preach to people to have redundant communications in the event of an emergency. Be proactive to receive information in various ways,” he said. “As a last resort, we will turn to person-to-person contact and battery-powered radios.”

Jeffrey Alderton may be contacted at

Text Only
Local News
  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Game on: City interested in baseball study

    After it looked like the objection of a couple of constituents to a study on the feasibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area may have torpedoed the thought, county commissioners and some city officials sounded ready to sing a chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday.

    April 18, 2014

  • DEREK SHEELY Charges against helmet maker stand in case of Frostburg player’s death

    A Montgomery County judge this week declined to dismiss charges against a helmet manufacturer in a case brought by the parents of a Frostburg State University football player who died of head injuries in August 2011 following four straight days of heavy contact drills in practice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GAYLE MANCHIN W.Va. BOE president speaks on issues at WVSDB

    West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin responded to issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind during an interview with the Times-News Wednesday morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • REGINALD REDMAN Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count

    A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blossoming optimism Blossoming optimism

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
News related video
Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military