Updated: Dec 5, 2022
In November, we were fortunate to have a full slate of public safety officials join us at the pop-up library for our third installment of the Library Series: Public Safety in Etna. As we work with community members to build our library and community center from the ground up, we want to explore all of the aspects of public life and how they will be represented within this new institution. As with all aspects of civic life, public safety is paramount to the functioning of this new space. This meeting gave an opportunity for public safety professionals and residents alike to share their vision for how the Etna Center for Community can play a role in improving public safety in Etna.
We kicked off the evening with Eric Schmidt, Chief of Hampton Shaler EMS. He gave some great insights into how the organization functions and how the community can better support this vital service. We asked him what were some of the most concerning health trends that his crew is confronted with in our community and how the future library can provide education and support around this issue. He mentioned the opioid epidemic and the impact that it is having on our region, and how important it will be to have library staff trained in administering NARCAN. He also suggested that education on this topic could help to destigmatize the issue within the community.
Greg Porter, Etna Councilman and Chief of the Etna VFD, spoke about the impressive array of training and services that his company provides to our community and communities around the region. Enta residents should be proud of the dedication and skill that the crew of volunteers brings to the Etna VFD. Greg spoke specifically on the recruitment of young people into the department and gave some advice on how to bring youth into the library by providing them with opportunities that they currently do not have in the borough.
In Etna, you can’t talk about public safety without talking about flood safety! Borough Manager Mary Ellen Ramamage was on hand to talk about the various programs that the borough is involved in to help mitigate flooding and earn reductions in flood insurance for residents. She also spoke about her role as the borough’s Emergency Coordinator and the role of the future ECC as a resiliency hub. Once developed, the ECC will run on solar power and will be a place where residents can come during emergencies to access electricity, supplies and information.
We also heard from our police chief, Tim Rodman, about the training that his department undergoes on an annual basis and the department’s commitment to community policing. He was joined by Kelley Kelley from the regional organization, CONNECT, to discuss a new program that Etna and other northern area communities are participating in called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion or LEAD. This program will allow officers to refer some individuals to social service providers rather than arresting them for minor offenses. The goal is to get individuals the help they need and reduce repeat offenses.
Katrina Mink and Kelly King from the Allegheny County Library Association or ACLA also joined us to discuss the Social Workers in Libraries Program. Ms Mink runs this program, which places graduate students studying to go into the social work field into libraries where they have access to residents and can provide them with resources. We learned how libraries are places where library staff are often confronted with patrons whose needs are well outside of what library services can provide for. This is why having a trained social worker on site can be so beneficial, both for the community and in supporting the library staff. Kelly King is currently working at the Millvale community library, and she discussed many examples of ways that she has been able to use her skills to assist the patrons of the MCL.
We are privileged to have such a wide range of public safety professionals working for our community. We look forward to working with all of them to make the ECC a safe space that meets the needs of all of our residents.