County to help libraries beef up security


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 Nassau County public libraries, including each of the four Bellmore and Merrick facilities.

“Unfortunately it’s the times we live in,” said Ellen Firer, director of the Merrick Public Library, who supports the idea. “It’s a public building, so we have to keep everyone safe, not just the staff.”

The app — which is already in place in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District — acts as a digital panic button, and would immediately alert all of the library’s staff and local law enforcement of emergency situations.

Nassau library boards of trustees will need 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 of the staff members will have the app on their phone to receive instant emergency notifications.

County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder announced on July 30 that the county would be making 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 oc-curred 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.”

Firer noted that the Rave app would not be the first emergency precaution taken at the Merrick Library. Staff members regularly practice crisis procedures, and panic buttons have been installed throughout the library in multiple locations.

The app will feature more than one emergency button, Thresher explained. While the priority of the county is to counteract active-shooter situations, the app can also be used for fires, medical emergencies and other situations. An active-shooter incident would get the highest priority, she said.

“If an active shooter came to a library,” Thresher said, “every second matters.”

She added that every library is different in terms of emergency response. The Merrick library, for example, is a two-story building. Someone on the second floor might not know about an emergency in the basement, so the app would be able to quickly alert all library staff, she said. Employees who were not in the building would also be notified, so they would not walk 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.”

Bellmore Memorial Library Director Elaine Cummings-Young confirmed that the library is looking into implementing the emergency-response app.