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Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11

Aired September 5, 2011 - 23:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just have to accept the fact that this is probably going to be something where there are going to be fatalities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) it hit the second tower. We got visible fire showing out there. We need (INAUDIBLE) tower two!

TERRI TOBIN, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: We got there at 8:54. We really flew.

The south tower, though it had been hit second, went down first. I look up and I see it. I'm not going to outrun this.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On September 11, 2001, New York police lieutenant Terri Tobin worked for the NYPD press office. Her job, handle the media.

TOBIN: I got blown out of my shoes. And I just -- I feel blood going down the back of my neck. There is this chunk of cement.

O'BRIEN: She was beneath the twin towers when they collapsed.

TOBIN: If I didn't have the helmet on my head, I would have been decapitated. The glass went through my back but didn't puncture my lung. At that moment, I said, This is it. We're all going to die on the street. All you heard was people screaming. So I grabbed someone's hand and I said, I'm with the NYPD. I'm not going to let go.

My name is Teresa (ph) Tobin. I am a deputy inspector in the NYPD.

O'BRIEN: Terri is just one of the extraordinary women who came to the rescue that day, featured in this 2002 book, "Women at Ground Zero."

BRENDA BERKMAN, NEW YORK FIRE DEPT. (RET.): Little boys and girls should have these women as their role models.

REGINA WILSON, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: People want to say that we're a part of the brotherhood. We're not. You know, we're sisters. We're women.

BERKMAN: It's going to be 1,776 feet high. It will be taller than the original twin towers.

O'BRIEN: Today, six of these women of Ground Zero tell the story of the past decade of rebuilding, recovering and restoring hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just something that you'll never forget.

TOBIN: We saw the worst of human beings on this planet. I also think that we saw the best. And I think some remarkable things have occurred as a result of 9/11.

O'BRIEN: Deputy inspector Terri Tobin is the commander of the New York Police Department's Office of Personnel.

(on camera): Do you ever have regrets about being a first responder on 9/11?

TOBIN: I have not one regret.

O'BRIEN: Never? With the injuries that you suffered?

TOBIN: No. Not at all. Not at all. I was doing what I was meant to do. And to this day, I am convinced that I'm doing exactly as I'm meant to be doing at this point in my life.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Women have been a part of the New York Police Department for nearly a century, yet they are just 17 percent of the force, 15 percent nationwide.

TOBIN: Well, I came on the police department in 1983. And I think at that point, we were only 6 percent of the department. But I come from a law enforcement family. My dad was a NYPD officer. And I'm one of five, and four of the five of us followed in his footsteps.

O'BRIEN: Regina Wilson is the only woman in her firehouse nearly 30 years after women won the right to be New York firefighters.

WILSON: I came in in '99. So it happened in 2001, so I think I got a full understanding of what it means to be the first person on the scene.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Why would you want a job that is so dangerous and so risky?

WILSON: It's just the nature of serving and the nature of helping people and seeing that people are safe.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Terri believes the small numbers are why women don't get more recognition for their roles on September 11.

(on camera): There were female firefighters.

TOBIN: Right. O'BRIEN: Police officers.

TOBIN: Right.


TOBIN: Correct. There were female carpenters. I don't think that there was any task that was performed down there by men that was not performed by a woman.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Terri believes women can still make their mark. Her role is reviving a department that lost 23 officers on September 11. Nearly 100 more retired due to post-traumatic stress.

TOBIN: It has a significant impact in terms of how we respond.

O'BRIEN: Forty percent of the department is new since 9/11.

TOBIN: There's a whole series of training that didn't exist, say, when I came, you know, on the job. We do counterterrorism training. As an executive, I get briefed on worldwide events. So it is different. It is actually how to respond. Our equipment has changed to reflect all of that, as well.

O'BRIEN (on camera): In what ways?

TOBIN: Well, we now have a mask that we can put on, an escape hood. We all have counterterrorism bags.

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Terri is, as I say, emblematic of that spirit, that can-do spirit.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): The police department rebuilt its command center after 9/11 and started a special counterterrorism team.

(on camera): So you can control the cameras, meaning you go wider, you can move them...

KELLY: -- you can move.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Police commissioner Ray Kelly.

KELLY: The world has become a much smaller place. Certainly, it's a dangerous place. We recognize that. But we're communicating now much more effectively, and we all realize that we're in this together.

TOBIN: It took a long time for people to come around hopeful, to be hopeful again. So many people that have taken the vulnerability and their feelings from 9/11 and done remarkable acts of heroism in everyday life.

O'BRIEN: Terri won a medal of valor for her work on 9/11 and then devoted herself to a decade of restoring hope, like many of the women of Ground Zero.

Regina Wilson has devoted her decade to another mission.

WILSON: My job is different every day. We work two days a week, eight days a month. This is a good, good job.

O'BRIEN: She's convincing more women to join New York's bravest, even, even if it means risking their lives.

(on camera): This is not an easy job.

WILSON: Right.

O'BRIEN: And it's a scary job and it's a job where you could die on the job.

WILSON: Right.

O'BRIEN: Why is it something that you fought to be part of?


WILSON: All I kept hearing was, We're under attack! We're under attack! Everybody run! Everybody run! And then we turned around, and it was just like this big, black smoke, right, with flames in it just coming towards us. So we ran. It went completely black. At that point, I was trying to resolve myself and get content with death.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Regina Wilson's fire company was blown back at the mouth of Ground Zero.

WILSON: It felt like a war zone. Fires were everywhere. In one of the buildings, there was a fire on every other floor.

O'BRIEN: She had traded spots with another firefighter who arrived earlier. His remains were never found.

WILSON: I knew that our guys were dead.

My name is Regina Wilson and I am a firefighter for the city of New York.

CHILDREN: Good morning!

WILSON: Who here knows what a firefighter does?

O'BRIEN: These Manhattan kindergarteners are too young to have witnessed the terror or the heroism of 9/11.

WILSON: You see boys all the time doing all of the jobs. If you want to do anything at all, you can do it, even though you're girls, because girls rock, right? Do girls rock?


WILSON: All right!

O'BRIEN: Regina's challenge is convincing these girls that the value of serving is greater than the danger.

BERKMAN: These are all women -- you can't see it too much, but they're holding -- see this hose line here?

O'BRIEN: Brenda Berkman fought for that right in 1979 when she sued the fire department for gender discrimination. Three years later, she won. And this lawyer-turn-firefighter was among the first 42 women hired.

BERKMAN: Over here, you know, we've got the names of all the people who were lost that day.

O'BRIEN: Brenda retired a captain in 2006. She now gives tours of the 9/11 Tribute Center, hoping to remind people of the women at Ground Zero.

(on camera): So at the 10-year mark, what do you personally want for you?

BERKMAN: For me, I'd like to feel like -- that history is going to be remembered accurately, that there are going to -- that women are going to be in the picture as rescue and recovery workers, that we're going to move on, but at the same time, we're going to never forget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Firefighter Wilson will make the pickup. Take out the slack. Tighten it up. Gina, ready to go?

WILSON: Ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, let's get that over the edge.

O'BRIEN: Twelve years ago, Regina joined Engine 219 in Brooklyn, a beneficiary of Brenda's lawsuit.

WILSON: Sir, can you please put your arms around my neck, and I'm going to grab your waist. Down, down, down!

O'BRIEN (on camera): This is not an easy job.

WILSON: Right.

O'BRIEN: And it's a scary job and it's a job where you could die on the job.

WILSON: Right.

O'BRIEN: Why is this something that you fought to be part of?

WILSON: Because I think it's a cause worthy of that. Everyone needs somebody to look out for them. And I think, like, the purest part of my job is when I'm in uniform because you can't tell my race. You can't tell my gender.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): She became the first firefighter in her family. WILSON: I was raised that way because I was in church and I've learned the basics of loving one another and on putting other people before yourself.

O'BRIEN: Regina hopes more women will follow her into firefighting. Yet 10 years after 9/11, the fire department has fewer female firefighters.

(on camera): How many female firefighters are there in the city?


O'BRIEN: Out of?

WILSON: A little close to 11,000.

O'BRIEN: 29 out of 11,000?

WILSON: Yes. So we're not even a percentage.

O'BRIEN: How much of it is discrimination?

WILSON: Discrimination is everywhere. I mean, this is a very physical job, but just because it's physical just doesn't mean that a man can do it.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): More women have joined the other rescue services since 9/11, including the military and the Department of Homeland Security, which was established after the attacks. DHS secretary Janet Napolitano.

JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We've got 230,000-some-odd employees who are spread all over the United States, and a third of our employees are women and 25 percent of our upper management are women. I'm proud of that.

O'BRIEN: In New York, 17 percent of the police department is female. Firefighting remains an exception.

WILSON: I kind of felt like I had the double-whammy. I couldn't, you know, retreat and blend in because I was African- American. And I believe it was only 16 in my class. And I was the only woman.

O'BRIEN: Fewer than 5 percent of U.S. firefighters are women, and they report high levels of harassment on the job.

WILSON: You have to kind of pull yourself back from it because, they'll let you know sometimes how they feel about women.

Hi, I'm Regina. Nice to meet you, Elizabeth.

O'BRIEN: The fire department recently launched a recruiting drive. Regina is always looking for new female firefighters.

WILSON: I always feel like I'm doing something for my community. O'BRIEN: Regina says she's felt only support at her firehouse, where 7 firefighters were among the 343 who died. She's remembering all of them in a memorial CD.

(on camera): Is it painful to look at this?

WILSON: Yes. It's sad because they brought so much to this house and they brought so much happiness and joy. Like, Henry was the dad of the house. And Frank Palumbo, he was an awesome guy. He had 10 children.

Before 9/11, I've gone to fires. I've even gotten burned at fires. But I still didn't grasp the concept of my job. And I think 9/11 really changed what it means to be a firefighter in the city of New York.

There's nothing in the world that girls can't do. We could be police officers. We can be construction workers. We can drive trains.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): A concept the female firefighters seek to instill in this classroom named in honor of Brenda.

CHILDREN: Brenda Berkman fought fires! She fought with all her might!

O'BRIEN: But Brenda Berkman's fight over the legacy of Ground Zero is not over.

BERKMAN: There are going to be people who are going to be unhappy with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This brings back a lot of bad memories.

BERKMAN: I might be one of them. Why has it taken 10 years to build on that site?


BERKMAN: We led the charge into Manhattan with this whole group of Brooklyn firefighters because we had the lights and sirens.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Firefighter Brenda Berkman was among the army of rescue workers who came to search for survivors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Advise them they can go to (INAUDIBLE) local hospital (INAUDIBLE) blood donations.

BERKMAN: We were all in a desperation mode. We had to find those people who were trapped. There were eight officers from my battalion who responded. Five of them were killed. I'll be sitting somewhere, and all of a sudden, some guy's face or his name will flash into my head, and I'll just be, like -- you know, the disbelief just sets in all over again.

My name is Brenda Berkman, and I am a retired New York City fire officer. For me, that was the question I was constantly asking myself after 9/11, How am I going to react to this terrible, terrible event?

I had absolutely no background in art when I started here.

O'BRIEN: For this Minnesota native, solace came through her art.

BERKMAN: It's been a tremendous creative outlet for me, but I never did any prints that directly spoke about 9/11 up until just within the last couple of months.

Let's talk about what the Trade Center was like before 9/11.

O'BRIEN: But her passion is volunteering as a guide at the 9/11 Tribute Center right next to the construction site that is Ground Zero.

BERKMAN: In the center, there's a plaza with a golden globe. That plaza, people used it not only as a pedestrian mall, but they had their lunches there.

Grief makes a hole in your heart, and you have a choice of what you want to do with that space.

Two hundred and fifty of the three hundred and forty-three firefighter names that are on here were guys that I had worked with. I miss them every day.

O'BRIEN: Brenda shows visitors artifacts pulled from the rubble, photographs of those who died.

BERKMAN: Henry Miller was in Ladder 105 with me when I was...

O'BRIEN: Even today, the question lingers, How do you fill this void?

(on camera): Is it possible to remember everybody in a way that everyone will be happy?

BERKMAN: Probably not.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Ground Zero is a graveyard where 2,753 people died. More than 3,000 children lost a parent in the attacks. For 10 years, the drive to rebuild these 16 acres for the future has run head on into the desire to honor the dead. There were angry words over building offices on the footprints of the towers where people died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politics and economic agendas are destroying this sacred site!

O'BRIEN: The positioning of the names of the dead caused rancor.

BERKMAN: People are angry about all kinds of things.

O'BRIEN (on camera): What are you angry about?

BERKMAN: What am I angry about? You know, just the fact that it happened.

BONNIE GIEBFRIED, FMR. EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN: This is -- my happy little tomato plants. I'm averaging two to six a week, seeing doctors.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): There are also survivors, like Bonnie Giebfried, who are afraid to return to Ground Zero. She sustained serious injuries in the attack.

GIEBFRIED: None of us should have walked out of what we walked out of. After being buried alive not once, but twice, I have my days where I'm very angry.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Frustrated?

GIEBFRIED: I'm very frustrated, yes.

O'BRIEN: Sad about it?

GIEBFRIED: I'm very sad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he wasn't that big when he passed away because...

GIEBFRIED: I continue to work on moving forward, to not be retraumatized, retriggered.

MICHAEL ARAD, ARCHITECT: As you'll see, a lot of the site is still under construction. Memorial Plaza starts right here, and you can see these trees and that bowl (ph) up there.

O'BRIEN: Architect Michael Arad won the competition to design an outdoor memorial.

ARAD: It's been so hard to make this both a significant memorial ground but also have a place where the office workers who are here already and who will be in these new towers, where they'll come down here and sit on a bench and have lunch.

O'BRIEN: The footprints of the destroyed towers are now below- ground waterfalls. The family of the dead got to request where their names would be placed.

ARAD: So what looks like a random array of names is, in fact, the fruit of this collaboration with family members.

O'BRIEN: Trees, walkways and a museum separate places to remember from the office space being built. Brenda's first glimpse of the memorial grounds moved her.

(on camera): When you look out and see construction this way and a memorial almost done over there, what do you think?

BERKMAN: Fantastic. I can hardly wait to be able to walk through those trees and see those fountains and touch them.

O'BRIEN: Why is that so important?

BERKMAN: Because those were my friends, you know? And my co- workers. And finally, finally, they're going to have a beautiful remembrance of their sacrifice and I'll be able to go pay my respects.

O'BRIEN: Bonnie Giebfried needs no reminder. She is still living the tragedy of Ground Zero.

GIEBFRIED: I was buried alive down at Ground Zero, and I'm now buried alive by paperwork.


SUSAN HENDRICKS, HLN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Susan Hendricks. Here's what's now in the news.

President Obama spent this Labor Day in Detroit rallying union supporters. He told the crowd it is time for Washington games to be over. Obama will unveil a jobs' plan in his speech to Congress on Thursday.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to give everything away right here because I want you all to tune in on Thursday. But I'll you just a little bit.


We've got roads and bridges across this country that need rebuilding. We've got private companies with the equipment and man power to do the building. We've got more than one million unemployed construction workers ready to get dirty right now.


HENDRICKS: Meanwhile, five GOP presidential hopefuls attended a candidate forum in South Carolina. The event was hosted by Senator Jim DeMint, a leader in the Tea Party movement. Texas Governor Rick Perry was supposed to take part in that forum. Instead he headed home to deal with dozens of wildfires burning in his state.

Strong winds from tropical storm Lee made matter worse for fire crews. Near Austin, Texas, 25,000 acres and almost 500 homes have been destroyed in one fire zone that is zero percent contained. In another blaze, a mother and her 18-month-old baby were killed when flames engulfed their homes.

The remnants of tropical storm Lee caused a stormy labor day across the southeast. One person died in floodwaters in Mississippi. A teenage boy is policing off the coast of Alabama. In Georgia, the storm knocked out power to about 20,000 customers, about half of them around Atlanta, where possible tornados were reported.

And hurricane Katia is now a category four storm with maximum winds of 135 miles per hour. The storm is so far out in the Atlantic forecasters expect rip currents along the U.S. East Coast.

Now back to "Beyond Bravery -- The Women of 9/11."


BONNIE GIEBFRIED, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER: The next thing we knew, all the debris, all you heard was, you know, things banging against the building, and everything went dark.

O'BRIEN: Emergency medical technician Bonnie Giebfried was at the World Trade Center beneath the buildings when they collapsed.

GIEBFRIED: We were buried alive. We were buried, they said, four stories under. And breathing was getting worse and worse and worse and we were suffocating. We were literally starting to die.

My name is Bonnie Jane Giebfried. I was an EMT on 9/11. This is my pro air.

O'BRIEN: Bonnie didn't inhale her last breath on September 11th, but she hadn't been able to breathe easy since.

(on camera) What was your medical diagnosis from 9/11?

GIEBFRIED: I have multiple chemical sensitivity. I have asthma. I have gerd. I have reactive airway disease. My left size, thumb, wrist, elbow have all been reconstructed. I need further surgeries.

O'BRIEN: Have any of those things improved in the last 10 years?

GIEBFRIED: I still have them, 10 years later. Ten years later. It doesn't go away.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): She spent hours buried in the toxic dust, just like thousands of other first responders.

GIEBFRIED: Off to the doctors now.

O'BRIEN: An estimated 80 percent of first responders rarely, if ever, wore masks that day.

GIEBFRIED: Yesterday I had a really bad bout with the asthma because of the humidity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Let me just --

O'BRIEN: Bonnie stopped working just months short of qualifying for a pension or health care coverage.

GIEBFRIED: It just became a nightmare because my body was breaking down quicker than I could actually physically and mentally recoup.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to feel your stomach because of the pain.

O'BRIEN: Today she struggles to pay bills on Social Security disability and worker's compensation.

GIEBFRIED: My health just increasingly deteriorated and deteriorated and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sounds good today.

GIEBFRIED: I really thought that not only my job, but the fire department of New York was going to back us, that the government was going to back us, that my union was going to back us. And to this day that's not a reality.

O'BRIEN: And 53,000 people across the country have been screened for 9/11-related health problems. Last year, 15,000 responders received treatment through the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, cofounded by Dr. Benjamin Luft (ph).

(on camera) How do you treat someone like Bonnie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of physical problems bonnie has and they need to be attended to. But at the same time, there's a tremendous amount of attention that has to be made to her psychological and social issues.

GIEBFRIED: People say, oh, you're mental, you know. You're losing your mind. I really thought I was losing my mind until I learned the dynamics of what happens with posttraumatic stress.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): There are also people like retired police sergeant Carey Policastro whose health remains uncertain. She was among the 40,000 people who worked at the site in the weeks after the attacks.

CAREY POLICASTRO, RETIRED POLICE SERGEANT: You have a lot of people who are terminally ill. I have a couple of no nodules in my lung. So far everything is fine, but I don't want what will happen 10 years from now.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Who are these guys in the front? They are the squad leaders.

POLICASTRO: The squad leaders are in front. The wind changed direction.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): She now trains today's first responders.

POLICASTRO: What I saw is I saw you bring your squad leaders out and briefed them.

O'BRIEN: Even as she worries about her own future.

(on camera) Where do you think we are 10 years later? What have been the ramifications of that day?

POLICASTRO: There's a lot of health issues not being addressed. There's a lot of people getting sick that aren't receiving the treatment and care that they deserve and need. O'BRIEN: As of June, 2010, 345 responders have died of cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We haven't been able to say with certainty whether cancer occurred as a result of 9/11.

O'BRIEN: There were cancer-causing compounds, Benzine, dioxin, and asbestos, found in the debris. In 2001, then EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, said the air was safe.

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Everything we tested for, which includes asbestos, lead, and DOCs have been below any level of concern for the general public health.

O'BRIEN: But the public wasn't completely convinced. After a decade of fighting, some relief. This year Congress allocated $4.3 billion for treatment and services for the survivors of 9/11, but not covering cancer. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg fought for the law.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I'm addressing the 9/11 health care effects as a national duty and we're glad and grateful Congress has recognized this and is fulfilling its obligation to the thousands of responders, office workers, and residents who continue to suffer.

GIEBFRIED: I was buried alive at ground zero. And I'm now buried alive by paperwork.

O'BRIEN: Bonnie says her illnesses consume her life.

(on camera) So it's harder to get better if you're still grappling with the psychological trauma of 9/11?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. It works almost like a cycle. And if you can't work on both those issues simultaneously, you can't break the cycle.

O'BRIEN: When does it end for you? I mean, if we're having this conversation in 10 years, are you better? Or is it 15 years? Or is it the 25th anniversary? When are you better?

GIEBFRIED: I can't think about it. I have to deal with right here, right now, one day at a time, one thing at a time, because you don't know what tomorrow is going to bring.

O'BRIEN: Carey Policastro worries what tomorrow will bring. She's training for the next attack.

POLICASTRO: They're going to try to hit us again. I think it's just a matter of when.


POLICASTRO: I was flying home on an airplane. And they grounded all the airplanes, so I wasn't able to come home. I was completely devastated that I couldn't be at home helping the people that I swore to serve.

O'BRIEN: Police Sergeant Carey Policastro finally got on a plane to New York three days later.

POLICASTRO: And I went from Kennedy airport right down to ground zero. I was overwhelmed, totally devastated to actually see it and smell it and taste it and be down there and realize how large it was.

My name is Carey Policastro, and I'm a retired sergeant from the New York City police department.

O'BRIEN: A decade later --

POLICASTRO: Yellow squad post your squad.

O'BRIEN: She's preparing for the next attack.


We can't sit down and let them walk all over us. We have to stand up for our rights. That's what makes America great.

O'BRIEN: About once a month she travels to Aniston, Alabama, to train police officers from around the world at the Center for Domestic Preparedness.

POLICASTRO: I don't think another attack on the U.S. is "if." I think it's a matter of "when."

O'BRIEN: Carey teaches riot and crowd control, bringing 20 years of policing experience to her students.

POLICASTRO: This is the world that we live in. Right, wrong, indifferent, good and bad, we still have to be secure. We have to be safe. As a police officer and a public safety officer, that's my responsibility.

O'BRIEN: The number of women training here has risen from just seven percent in 2000, to 22 percent today. Carey says the lessons of ground zero are always in her head.

POLICASTRO: Certain things are just as raw as they were on that particular day. When you go down there and you are physically there, it shakes you to your core. You're right. You're reliving the moment.

O'BRIEN: The first responders back on September 11th were acting on instinct and basic training. Like the woman who saved Marty Glynn.

(on camera) Where were you?

MARTIN GLYNN, SAVED BY MOIRA SMITH: I was in the south tower. We were on 84.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Then he saw police officer Moira Smith. GLYNN: We exited this area and there was a ramp leading to the escalator down where they were evacuating. So at the end of the ramp, Moira was standing there with her flashlight. She was pointing down the escalator stairs saying "Keep moving. Don't look. Keep moving."

O'BRIEN: Moira saved dozens of life by refusing to panic when face with the unexpected.

GLYNN: We all of a sudden felt calm. We felt like she had it under control. It almost seemed like a fire drill.

O'BRIEN: Teaching new skills is critical for today's first responders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know your name?

O'BRIEN: Before 9/11, the Center for Domestic Preparedness trained 2,500 students a year. Now they train 100,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's three sets of gloves they have on there.

POLICASTRO: Rick Dickson (ph) is the assistant director for training delivery. He's been here since the center opened in 1998.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're learning how to respond to terrorist attacks or attacks that involve chemical agents or biological agents, radiological threats, improvised explosive devices. They're learning how to protect the community so there's some prevention element.

O'BRIEN (on camera): And the students who are here, what do they do in their real jobs when they were all not students here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their daily lives, they are riding in police cars or ambulances, working in hospitals, emergency managers, preparing for what could be a very bad scenario.

O'BRIEN: That prevention starts here at the Department of Homeland Security's National Operations Center where threats, conditions, and activities across the United States are monitored 24/7.

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY : If you look at what happened on 9/11, and you look at what we do now, that kind of conspiracy would be very difficult, if not totally impossible to successfully accomplish now. There are no guarantees. But are we maximizing our ability to prevent a large-scale plot from ever occurring again on American soil? We're doing everything we can to do that.

O'BRIEN: The Center for Domestic Preparedness is part of that mission. This is the only facility where civilians train with live toxic agents. Instructors need to prepare students for every possible scenario.

POLICASTRO: It's about awareness. We all need to work together. I've met hundreds, thousands of police officers and they know they can call me and I can call them.

O'BRIEN: These patients played by actors, are walking into the emergency room after an explosion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, somebody help me!

DICKSON: So when this hits them and they're own hometowns, whatever it may be, they're not thinking about what they do. They're reacting based on training.

POLICASTRO: Things are fluid and things keep happening.

O'BRIEN: That training and the threat of another attack are why Carey Policastro is here.

POLICASTRO: This is in our backyard right now. This is not something that's happening in another country. We've never seen an attack like this before prior to 9/11. We had the 1993 bombing of the Trade Center, which a lot of people forgot about. And unfortunately, I think a lot of people are forgetting about 9/11, too.

O'BRIEN (on camera): You think so?

POLICASTRO: Absolutely. I think it was 10 years. So yes, I do. I think people are forgetting about it.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Marty Glynn is certain he will never forget the woman who saved his life.


JIM SMITH, HUSBAND OF MOIRA SMITH: This was a phone call and it was from my sister. She told me that they were at the World Trade Center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was on the street. I don't have much air. Please, help me.

O'BRIEN: Officer Moira Smith was evacuating people from the burning buildings.

SMITH: As I was driving in, approaching the Midtown Tunnel, I saw the building collapse. And that's the first time I got scared.

My name's Jim Smith. I'm a retired New York City police officer and husband of police officer Moira Smith who was killed on 9/11. Today we're in the first became of the championship for the little league.

O'BRIEN: Jim and Moira's daughter Patricia is now 12 years old. She's is the captain of her softball team and a straight-A student.

SMITH: Moira loved to play softball. We used to say she had two speeds -- slow and stop. Patricia is fast and she's a lot more athletic. But other aspects she takes after her mom, always smiling, cheering everybody on, the not giving up. Patricia is a fighter. She has her mom's spirit there.

Obviously, you know, as a little girl, we just kept it simple. It wasn't like we told her that, you know, Moira died. But we explained to her that she wouldn't be coming back and that she was helping people in heaven.

O'BRIEN: After saving the man in this picture, Moira Smith ran back inside to rejoin the rescue. She was killed in the collapse of the South Tower. For her bravery, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani posthumously presented Moira the New York Police Department's medal of honor.

SMITH: I remember getting Patricia dressed that morning in her red dress and putting the bow in her hair and black patent leather shoes. And she was brave. She walked right up on the stage and got the medal from the mayor.

For months people searched the rubble for the missing. Then on the first day of spring in 2002 Moira's body was found. She was laid to rest, but her bravery became immortal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim, Patricia, please join us at the podium.


O'BRIEN: Every year, Jim and the New York Police Reserve Association --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This grant is for $3,750.


O'BRIEN: -- gives scholarships to young women in Moira's name.

SMITH: It's a way for Moira to make a difference in people's lives.

O'BRIEN: Jim brings Patricia to almost every event.

SMITH: Patricia wants to have something from her mother that she can hold onto, and I think that's a huge thing, you know, her heroism as a woman and as a police officer.

SMITH: She's always giving you a big kiss.

PATRICIA SMITH, DAUGHTER OF MOIRA SMITH: At first I was a sad. Her being a hero is a great thing. But the reason she became a hero was she had to die to become a hero. But as I just kept getting older I realized that it happened for a reason.

O'BRIEN: One of the people Moira saved was Marty Glynn.

GLYNN: I was sitting there when the second plane hit.

O'BRIEN: Marty was evacuating from the 84th floor from the south tower on 9/11. GLYNN: I got to the end of the ramp and I was standing directly in front of Moira. All is sudden her voice turned very intense. She said, "Don't look, don't look." That moment when we had this intense eye contact I knew she knew the danger we were in. We were all aware of what was going on. And her demeanor and her calm disposition in that's of this danger is what gave everybody the confidence to evacuate the building.

O'BRIEN (on camera): When you look back on that day, how do you see it?

GLYNN: I'm very thankful for all of the things I've been able to enjoy. I've had a very, very good life in the meantime. My sons got married. I have one grandson. I got another one due in the next day or two.

SMITH: I choose to remember Moira by looking at Patricia. I love the boats and parks and streets named after her. I think that's a great honor. But there's no bigger reward than to raise Patricia to be a good person.

POLICASTRO: People have turned such an awful event into something where they make a difference in today's world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I've learned I pass on and make sure that no man or woman is left behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be the person that people remember as, hey, you know, she did the right thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could have been me. If I'm still here, I need to serve a purpose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am hopeful that what I can do with the rest of my life is spend it in a way that creates peace, that I can continue to try to make the world a better place.