In the continued push to make public facilities safer, a new emergency alert system is coming to Nassau County libraries. The Rave Panic Button, an application that provides a fast response in emergency situations, will be available for implementation in all 54 county public libraries. It has already been installed at the Lynbrook Public Library, and could come soon to East Rockaway.
The app acts as a digital panic button, and immediately alerts all of the library’s staff and local law enforcement of emergency situations.
Nassau library boards of trustees must meet individually to discuss and vote to approve the app before implementation, according to the executive director of Nassau libraries, Jackie Thresher. If approved by a library, all staff members will have the app on their phones to receive instant emergency notifications.
Mary Thorpe, the East Rockaway Public Library director, said the board would soon receive further details from county officials and discuss the app and other safety measures at its Aug. 21 meeting, adding that it would also be a topic of discussion at next month’s session.
Lynbrook library Director Robyn Gilloon asked that the Herald speak with Mayor Alan Beach because the library’s budget is part of the village’s annual fiscal plan. Beach said that increasing security at the library has been a priority for years because the facility is open to the public and people of all ages enter the building daily.
The Lynbrook library already has the button installed, Beach said, and it automatically alerts the Lynbrook Police Department if it is activated. “Lynbrook has been at the forefront when it comes to security measures,” the mayor said.
The library had 10,921 cardholders as of June 30, and sees more than 7,000 visitors a month. Patrons’ safety, Beach said, is paramount, which is why village and library officials decided to implement the panic button.
The East Rockaway Public Library averaged more than 7,000 visitors per month between May 2017 and June 2018, and more than 88,000 per year. There are 5,384 cardholders for the library.
The East Rockaway School District enrolled the Rave app last autumn, while the Lynbrook School District activated it in its facilities toward the end of the 2017-18 school year.
County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder announced last month that the county would make the system available for libraries. “Too often, we see the headlines of active-shooter events,” Curran said. “A total of 188 mass shooting incidents have occurred as of July 23 of this year. One is too many.
“The Rave app is critical in response to active-shooter situations, and will protect patrons while generating a faster response to emergencies,” Curran continued. “It does not replace 911, but will assist greatly with response time and essential monitoring of the situation.”
The app will feature more than one emergency button, Thresher explained. While the county’s priority is to counteract active-shooter situations, the app can also be used for fires, medical emergencies and other situations. An active-shooter incident would receive the highest priority, she said.
“If an active shooter came to a library, every second matters,” Thresher said.
She added that every library is different in terms of emergency response because each county facility varies in size. The app, she said, is helpful because it would be able to alert all library staff of any problems quickly, even if employees were not on the floor of the emergency. Employees who were not in the building would also be notified, so they would know not to walk into a dangerous situation.
Ryder said the app would help police officers get to the scene of an emergency faster. “The Rave application will assist the Nassau County police in the event of an incident which requires emergency response by its police officers and medics,” he said. “When a school or library can immediately contact the police, it can decrease our response time, which will be of great benefit when seconds are crucial.”