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Preparedness for Terrorist Attacks

Considerations for National, Regional, and Individual Preparedness for Terrorist Attacks


Preparedness for terrorist attack serves a dual purpose. First, it provides some factual knowledge about how to respond to a possible terrorist attack, including specific actions that can increase the chance of survival. Second, it can give the individual a sense of empowerment or control over a situation that might otherwise seem helpless. This latter purpose is very important even in situations where the probability of a terrorist attack involving a specific individual is very small. As discussed throughout these training modules, terrorism exploits the individual’s fear and it needs not be based on a realistic threat of physical harm. Similarly, a sense of preparedness can give the individual a feeling of empowerment and it too need not be based on a realistic likelihood of being able to actually control the situation—a sense of being able to ‘handle’ the threatening situation negates much of the terror value of the terrorist threat.

Focus Questions

  1. Why prepare for a terrorist attack?
  2. Should individual citizens take steps to prepare for an attack, even though the likelihood of becoming a terrorist victim is very small for most people?