CUMBERLAND — First responders in Allegany County handled nearly a dozen suspected drug overdose calls over the weekend, according to public safety officials.
“The Allegany County Joint Communications Center dispatched ambulances, fire departments and police agencies to 11 reported overdoses,” Lt. Todd Bowman, public information officer for the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services, said.
Bowman said the number of overdose calls handled Saturday and Sunday could actually be higher.
“This number does not include calls dispatched for unconscious patients, cardiac or respiratory arrests or other similar types where they are later determined to be related to an opiate overdose,” he said.
Bowman said that a large majority of the weekend calls took place in the city of Cumberland and nearly every town or municipality in the county was affected.
“We work closely with our mutual aid agencies, including the Allegany County Sheriff’s Department and the Maryland State Police, on these incidents to ensure the safety of the scene, bystanders and personnel,” Bowman said.
Cumberland Fire Chief Donnie Dunn said his department handled six overdoses in about one hour on Thursday.
County first responders averaged about 14 overdose calls per week from May through July.
James Pyles, Allegany County Emergency Services director, noted that September is National Recovery Month for substance abuse.
“We use this month to educate the community on the importance of treatment, coupled with mental health treatment to live a rewarding life,” said Pyles. “The overdose numbers are devastating and, in some aspect, nearly every person has been affected by addiction.”
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States.
In 2017, 59% of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl compared to 14.3% in 2010, according to the NIDA.