Report: Montana Ranks in Lower Half of States for Emergency Preparedness

By Zach, Benoit | The Billings Gazette (Billings, MT), December 23, 2016 | Go to article overview

Report: Montana Ranks in Lower Half of States for Emergency Preparedness


Zach, Benoit, The Billings Gazette (Billings, MT)


A national report released Tuesday ranks Montana in the bottom half of states for emergency preparedness, if just barely.

The 2016 Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism report looks at all 50 states and Washington, D.C., on whether they meet standards in 10 categories of public health preparedness.

Compiled by the Trust for America's Health, the report says Montana scored in six out of the 10 categories, which measure how ready states are for emergencies -- including everything from natural disasters to disease outbreaks to terrorism. Montana was one of 26 states and D.C. to score a six or lower on the 10-point scale.

One of the main takeaways, according to the study's authors, is that many states aren't prepared for emergencies.

"We aren't adequately maintaining a strong and steady defense, leaving us unnecessarily vulnerable when new threats arise," said Rich Hamburg, interim president and CEO of the Trust for America's Health.

Montana scored points for:

* Increasing or maintaining public health funding by the state.

* Having at least one accredited public health department.

* Increasing the speed of DNA fingerprinting for E. coli cases.

* Working to reduce health care-associated infections.

* Providing information on biosafety training.

* Having biosafety personnel on staff at state public health laboratories.

Montana was one of 20 states that didn't meet the national overall average score of the National Health Security Preparedness Index, as well as one of 40 that didn't vaccinate at least half of the population six months and older for the seasonal flu for the 2015-2016 season.

It was also one of 18 states receiving poor marks in its readiness for the effects of climate change and one of 40 without access to a program that gets private sector health care staff and supplies into restricted areas during a disaster. …

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