Special Report

States Most (and Least) Prepared for a Disaster

“Preparedness requires contributions from different types of agencies and organizations – hospitals, public health agencies, first responders, schools, and nursing homes,” Glen P. Mays, director of the National Health Security Preparedness Index Program, told 24/7 Wall St. in a written exchange. “Geographic variation in preparedness is becoming more pronounced over time because some states and communities are finding ways to improve preparedness, while others are maintaining the status quo.”The study found that the South-Central, Upper Mountain West, Pacific Coast, and Midwest regions are lagging behind the nation overall in health security. Some of these areas have fewer community resources to utilize if an emergency occurs, according to the study, and some rank among the poorest states.

Coastal states Texas and Louisiana are trailing the national average even though they are frequent targets of hurricanes. “Part of the problem involves resource constraints,” said Mays. “Areas that experience emergency events must devote a large share of their resources to recovery, and this leaves fewer resources available to prepare for the next emergency.”

The preparedness level in some states, such as Maine, Idaho, and Michigan, has declined from previous years. All three states lost some strength in their disease surveillance and reporting capabilities, according to Mays.

Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Upper Midwest, and Central Rocky Mountain states have average preparedness levels above the national average.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the findings of the The National Health Security Preparedness Index that was prepared by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to determine which states are the most (and least) prepared for a disaster. The index considers six gauges of preparedness: Health security surveillance, community planning and engagement, information and incident management, health-care delivery, countermeasure management, and environmental and occupational health.