State Emergency Preparedness

How well prepared are states for the public health needs in emergencies like earthquakes, a flu pandemic or terrorist attacks? A new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says not all states are adequate. The Trust’s Jeffrey Levi says we have been doing much better in the past decade, but he worries about the future. “State and local health budgets are going down, federal investments in preparedness are going down and that combination makes us very worried about what the future looks like.” Levi fears preparedness levels will suffer from more budget cuts.  “That’s what worries me going forward is that overall we are going to see grades go down over time as we disinvest in preparedness, you know preparedness is not a one shot deal, you don’t build a system and then it takes care of itself.” Levi says only 15 states have plans to deal with severe weather linked to climate change.  “The concern here is making sure that public health, emergency preparedness, environmental programs and everyone who might respond to climate change is working together, that’s what we are looking for in these plans.” The report found that Kansas and Montana scored lowest with only 3 out of 10 core capabilities. Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin scored highest with 8 out of 10.