New 911 communication system in New Castle County integrates a panic button, live camera feeds and an automatic 911 call through a free smartphone app
In an emergency situation, seconds equate to lives.
A new 911 communication system in New Castle County, which integrates a panic button, live camera feeds and an automatic 911 call, aims to save those lives. New Castle County institutions like schools, malls and hospitals, can download the free smartphone app and register their building and employees in the system, as well as provide crucial information to emergency responders at the scene.
The launch of the Rave Panic Button, announced Tuesday at New Castle County Police Headquarters, comes after four years of programming and planning, said New Castle County Executive Thomas P. Gordon. The concept grew from a desire to bring more agencies together with more information should a threat like an active shooter or bomb occur nearby.
"Nobody in the country has something like this," he said. "It really is cutting edge and I think it's going to prepare us for the future."
The program cost about $70,000 to build and code through Rave Facility, said Jeffrey Miller, New Castle County chief of Emergency Communications. The smartphone app allows facilities to create a profile within the online database, containing integral employee contact information, building information and live camera feeds. Individuals authorized by the specific location can then create profiles within their organization to use the app and report emergencies.
To report an emergency, a user simply has to press the button most relating to their situation, prompting a call to 911 and notification to all necessary employees and agencies needed to respond.
The goal, Miller said, is to ensure emergency dispatchers and responders have the most information possible when responding to a potentially dangerous scene.
The integration of cameras at participating locations like the Siegal Jewish Community Center in Talleyville also allows agencies to direct their responders and send the appropriate people to a scene. Rather than dispatch police, firefighters and EMTs to an "unknown emergency," dispatchers can tell police what they're seeing firsthand on cameras.
If buildings provide floor plans and other materials, police, firefighters and medics can also gauge how and where to go once they arrive, Miller said.
That information alone will save agencies time and money for their emergency responses, said New Castle County Police Chief Elmer Setting. And it's free to any location that wants to participate – administrators just have to create an account.
"This is a game changer," Setting said. "It changes the resources needed to respond."
The program is live and working, Gordon added, after demonstrating the app with the Jewish Community Center on Tuesday. An employee could be seen on screen talking to an emergency dispatcher and eventually waved to the monitored camera.
"I hope we never need it and that this equipment goes to waste," Gordon said. "But my bet is it won't."
How to sign up:
Go to smart911facility.com or contact the county's Office of Emergency Management at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 395-2700.