The 37-year senior trainer with the U.S. Postal Service focused on business disaster preparedness. He defined terrorism as a "critical event that threatens people and/or their homes, business or community."
Speaking specifically of its potential impact on business, Petersen said "most businesses don't have an emergency or recovery plan even though they know it is important.
"They're too busy doing business, making money," he said.
Other statistics he shared: 47 percent of businesses that experience a fire or major theft go out of business within two years. Forty-four percent of companies that lose records in a disaster never resume business. And 93 percent of companies that experience a significant data loss are out of business within five years.
The majority of businesses spend less than 3 percent of their total budget on business recovery planning, he said.
"People are the greatest asset for a business, but they spend very little time to prepare for natural disasters, or terrorism --something we think will never happen to us," Petersen said.
"Terrorism tries to upset the normal scheme of things, create panic, loss of life and property," he said.
The first known act of terrorism, at least identified as such, in the U.S. occurred nearly 40 years ago in a small city on the Columbia River in Oregon, Petersen said.
A group of "hippies" who had formed a commune were upset the city government would not allow them to expand, Petersen recounted. They decided to try and swing the municipal election by targeting a buffet restaurant where they sprayed the food with a chemical. It caused more than 100 people who had eaten there to get seriously ill.
Utah has experienced at least three acts of known terrorism, he said. One was shortly before the 2002 Olympics ended, and a power substation was knocked out of service by a disgruntled employee who detonated a small explosive device.
The second was when grounds department equipment was destroyed at Brigham Young University, and the third, when a massive fire destroyed a large lumber yard in Salt Lake County.
"We want you to be able to identify items that are critical to the functioning of your facility and business," Petersen said.
"Usually there is a single source of supply for items" used by a small business, he said.
Virtually everybody has a computer on their desk, he said. "One of the biggest concerns is that you make sure you're hack-proof. Almost daily we hear of a (hacking) threat. One to two computers are stolen (regularly) with hundreds of thousands of names."
Preparedness should start with the family, he said, and businesses should be concerned about their employees at home as well as at work. For example, it's just as important for employees to have safety glasses at home as at work, he said.
In the meantime, preparations to fight terrorism continue. That means working on such issues as interagency communication, with the lack of police and fire communication during 9-11 in New York City blamed for the loss of some lives, Petersen said.
He will also present the 2-hour course at the Davis Business Alliance at 8 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 23. Call 593-2549 or register at www.datc.net/ece.