Why Prepare-React-Recover Often Starts with Rip-and-Replace

The Prepare-React-Recover (PRR) approach is a new way of dealing with an active shooter or similar violent situations in commercial, educational, healthcare, and other public facilities.

It was developed to address some of the limitations of Run-Hide-Fight (RHF), which was created more than 20 years ago. This is because “active assailant situations are no longer rare nor isolated and increasingly result in significant workplace disruption, anxiety, and deaths,” says Oscar Villanueva, COO of TAL Global, a leading security and risk assessment organization.

According to Villanueva, the Prepare-React-Recover concept is incident-driven and addresses situations as they are already happening.

Prepare-React-Recover (PRR) places a much greater emphasis on prevention, planning and post-incident actions — preventing or minimizing the chances that a violent situation ever occurs, along with powerful suggestions for recovery post incident.

A perfect example of the Prepare component of PRR is evolving at the University of Chicago. The University of Chicago, like so many U.S. universities, has had its share of shootings.  The last one occurred in November 2021, when a man planning a robbery shot and killed student Dennis Zheng.

The university responded to the incident with an immediate review of security procedures and an assessment of its campus police force. The assessment found that there was no need for additional personnel or training. Instead, it suggested other security measures be taken.

At one time, the university’s security focused on installing new door locks, door handles, and hinges. With this and other violent events, the college soon realized much more sophisticated access control systems were needed to ensure the protection of their 217-acre facility.

But adding new security technologies for the campus soon became a challenge. Updating the current legacy access control system — legacy refers to older technologies — was impossible. Some buildings on campus had security systems that were more than 25 years old, making them incompatible with newer technologies.

Plus, there was another issue. Emergencies on the campus “are constantly evolving,” says David Prudom, the university’s director of security and law enforcement technology. “The campus needed a platform that can expand and grow [to address the needs of the school] five, ten, and fifteen years from now.”

Enter Rip-and-Replace!

Here’s where Rip-and-Replace comes into the picture. Realizing the school needed a major security overhaul, the in-house security department turned to an outside vendor to perform rip-and-replace by ripping out old security hardware and technology and replacing it with new and updated systems.

The school’s in-house IT department conducted programming and testing for the new equipment. The testing revealed that in some cases, the opening of doors was not being detected, or information was not being relayed to the new computers. This needed to be corrected.


“One of the things I like best about the University’s security upgrades is that they were thinking ahead,” says Villanueva. “They were not focused on today’s security needs but realized security issues are ever evolving. They change over time.”

He also suggests that with a project this big, a timeline should be created at the start of the project to ensure what tasks need to be completed and at what intervals, honoring the principle of “what gets measured gets done”. This documented, step-by-step approach ensures everyone knows what has been accomplished and what is still needing to be addressed.

“I also recommend that our clients have regular check-ins with all involved with the security updates and prepare progress reports. This keeps everyone accountable and on task.”

Along with the updates to the actual security systems on the campus, the school also updated communication systems with their security officers and all major stakeholders at school, as well as students and staff members.

“This falls under the React component of Prepare-React-Recover,” adds Villanueva. “So often when we meet with new clients, it is the first time they realize their communications systems are non-existent or not effective.”

Villanueva re-emphasizes one crucial issue: the job of securing a large organization or facility must be viewed as a journey. “Managers must always be aware of emerging threats and update their prevention techniques accordingly. Remember, the Prevention component of PRR is all about looking ahead.”

TAL Global is an elite security, consulting, and risk management firm that protects human and physical assets around the globe. For more information email: info@talglobal.net



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