Anxiety: 'We're All Targets'

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the chance of a terror attack is high. Which is why attendance is soaring at American Red Cross disaster-preparation classes around the country. "I'm not freaked out," says Linda Velez, who recently attended "Preparing for the Unexpected" in New York. "I just want more information." Counterterrorism professionals are offering classes, too: at the Fort Sherman Institute for Human Protection at North Idaho College, a former Department of Defense expert is teaching businessmen how to fight back if they're on a plane overtaken by hijackers. GlobalOptions, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based firm, is preparing private clients to survive a biological or radiological attack, whether at home or in the workplace (hint: turn the bathroom into a safe room). A former SWAT instructor in Hollywood, Fla., Walter Philbrick, is offering the granddaddy of survival classes that includes a gas-attack drill, weapons instruction and a lecture on what you can eat after surviving a nuclear holocaust--all in four hours. "Like it or not," he warns, as a video of the 9-11 attack plays behind him, "we're all targets and we all need to become soldiers." Many security experts say classes like Philbrick's only pander to fear. "The reality is that most people don't need to learn how to shoot a gun or don a gas mask," says Jack Stradley, who directs a training facility owned by corporate-security giant Kroll. But for Robert McInnis, a plumber who paid $25 to take Philbrick's class last week, that's no reason not to learn as much as possible. "Even if you walk away with one thing you could use to save your life, it would be worth it," he says.

Join the Discussion