Published 7:52 pm Monday, June 21, 2004
Recent headlines on the national news have shown us that our country's metropolitan centers are unhappy with the distribution of homeland security funds.
They are arguing that the distribution of money leaves them on the short end of the stick when you view the money compared to population.
States like New York, New Jersey and others complain that per capita spending on homeland security in their states is well below per capita spending in less heavily populated states like Alabama.
State representatives say these highly populated states should get the lion's share of homeland security funding because more people are at risk in those states.
But the same argument used to say places like New York need more homeland security dollars can also be used to justify the expense of sending some of that money to other areas of the country.
Here in Escambia County, we've seen how just a small amount of homeland security money can make a large difference in the preparedness of smaller, rural emergency departments.
We don't have the huge populations and tax bases to pay the price tag of expensive equipment, and constant training like larger, metro areas.
Often, we have to rely on the dedication of volunteers, and make equipment last long beyond the time when larger departments would have simply purchased new equipment.
Remember, nothing exists in a vacuum. After the terrorists struck New York, many firefighters were tragically lost in their brave attempts to rescue the innocent. Afterwards, emergency departments from across this country offered their support, their people and their equipment. It was, you will recall, all put to good use and much appreciated by the people of New York.
Mobile and Pensacola may not be vast metropolises like New York, but with their ports and Navy presence, who's to say those cities will never be touched by terrorism.
If they ever are, it will be local, mostly rural, emergency responders like Atmore, Flomaton, Brewton and Poarch who will be the first to come to their aid.
We must also realize that Atmore lives with the possibility of a catastrophic rail or trucking accident due to the amount of rail traffic we have here.
Given just these two possibilities, shouldn't our rural emergency departments be as well equipped and well trained as possible?