East Meadow Public Library may adopt panic button app

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A new emergency alert system is coming to Nassau County libraries. The Rave Panic Button, an application that provides a fast response in emergencies, will be available in all 54 libraries county-wide, including the East Meadow Public Library.

Rocco Cassano, the facility’s assistant director, supports the app’s implementation. He noted that the library has panic buttons in a number of locations, but the app could be an even more useful measure in the digital age.

The app — which is already in place in the East Meadow High School District — is a digital panic button that immediately alerts all library staff members and local law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

“Most people have their cell phones on their person at all times or within reach at work,” Cassano said. “I think that factor alone makes it much more valuable than panic buttons in an emergency situation.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder announced on July 30 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.”

Nassau library boards of trustees will need to discuss and vote to approve the app before implementation, according to Jackie Thresher, executive director of Nassau Libraries. If approved by a library, all staff members will have the app on their phones.

Cassano said he was eager to hear more about the app, and curious about how much information it could provide to emergency dispatchers. “The more information they have,” he said, “the better they could deal with the emergency.”

The app features more than one emergency button, Thresher explained. While one of the county’s major priorities is counteracting active-shooter situations, the app can also be used for fires and medical emergencies. An active-shooter incident would get the highest priority, Thresher said. “If an active shooter came to a library,” she added, “every second matters.”

Every library is different when it comes to emergency response, she said. The East Meadow facility, for example, is a two-story building. Someone on the second floor might not know about an emergency in the basement, but the app would quickly alert everyone on the staff. Employees who were not in the building would be notified as well, to keep them from walking into a dangerous situation.

“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,” Ryder 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.”

Brian Stieglitz contributed to this story.