Alabama Emergency Personnel Learn Lessons From Nine-Eleven

A mobile command unit at the Prattville Police Department. Prattville city firefighters have 3 trailers full of rescue equipment. And in Montgomery County, a bomb robot that's often shared with law enforcement in 13 counties in Region 4.

"We can send this in to get a bomb instead of a human," said Montgomery County Chief Deputy Derrick Cunningham.

Much like the rest of the country, the first emergency responders in Region 4 are much different today compared to the days before 9-11; much wiser and far more willing to work together.

"The attacks were personal for me. 9-11 showed us sometimes the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing and now we're training together," said Alabama Homeland Security Director Jim Walker.

Most of the money for emergency responders come through Walker's office, and this year Homeland Security distributed more than $12 million dollars.

It's money well-spent if you ask one Prattville firefighter. Case in point; the department's swift water rescue plucked 3 people from flood waters left over by Hurricane Katrina in Waveland, Mississippi, 3 years ago.

"They could have died because they were cut off," said Lt. Ted Hughes.

One problem still being worked on is communications with radios and links. Channel overload sometimes happen but it too is being worked out.

"Any problems we encounter we'll get them worked out," said Autauga County EMA Deputy Director Crystal Ousley.

Securing the homeland, a never-ending goal for those on the front lines, and it's a big job for a small group. Emergency responders make up only 2 percent of this country's population.