Surprising state health preparedness ranking

Published 14 December 2005

Believe or not: South Carolina ranks first among states on preparedness for medical disaster; Iowa and New Hampshire rank last

We reported last week about the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) third annual study of state preparedness for major health emergencies — natural and man-induced. Although TFAH has no relation to the 9/11 Commission, the grade it gave the Bush administration for post-9/11 public health emergency preparedness was D+ — uncomfortably similar to the grade given the administration by the 9/11 Commission two weeks ago. States did not fare much better: More than half of the states received a garnered score of 5 or less out of 10 possible points for key indicators of health emergency preparedness, such as capabilities to test for chemical and biological threats and hospital surge capacity to care for patients in a mass emergency.

The ranking of individual states’ public health preparedness contains big surprises. Our readers may be as surprised as we were to find out that Delaware, Virginia, and South Carolina scored the highest, achieving eight of ten possible indicators. The states which brought up the rear? Alabama and Alaska may not be a surprise, but we would never have guessed that they would be joined on the lower rung by Iowa and New Hampshire (these four states achieved only two indicators).

-read more — and see map of your own state — at TFAH Web site

MORE: Officials of states which received low ranking were not amused. See their reactions in this report