Podcast: Keeping K-12 students safe demands a holistic approach to school security

Holistic security considerations for K-12 school design are examined in this 17-minute episode featuring Ryan Searles, IMEG’s security consulting group leader. Ryan spends an average of three weeks of each month traveling the country presenting at conferences or training organizations in crisis management, active shooter mitigation, and other security preparedness—with a growing number of school districts seeking his team’s services.

“We keep seeing a rise in violence in the United States and more violent events occurring at places of education,” says Ryan. “In K-12, particularly, it’s really about what we can do to mitigate it from happening.”

In addition to getting involved earlier in the design phase of new facilities, Ryan and his team are also conducting an increasing number of security assessments of existing schools, providing answers to such questions as, “What do we have in place? What are we doing right? Where are our gaps and where are our vulnerabilities? How do we fix those?” The most effective security design and emergency preparedness takes a blended, holistic approach, Ryan says, and includes not only physical and technology design aspects but also “the human aspect”—training, drills and rehearsals for staff and students, as well as proactive threat assessments of individuals and being vigilant about watching for early warning signs.

“We’ve been a very reactive culture in the United States with school security and safety. We can’t do that anymore—that’s become very apparent and has a lot to do with my team being so busy. Schools are reaching out saying, ‘Come show us what we need to do to keep these kids safe.’ “

Ryan Searles will present “Security Considerations for School Design” at 8:15 a.m. Oct. 13 at the Association for Learning Environments’ National Conference, LearningSCAPES 2023, in Chicago. Learn more.

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