A new report analyzing how ready states are for disasters gives Iowa a passing grade, but it’s far from head of the class.
“Quite frankly, as a country we have not paid sufficient attention to setting a baseline of preparedness that every community should expect,” says Paul Kuehnert of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of two non-profit groups that issued the annual report today.
The report concludes there are “persistent gaps” in the ability of states to respond when a public health threat emerges.
“Obviously it’s impossible to be prepared for every scenario,” Kuehnert says. “But it is possible and essential to maintain a basic, core level of preparation and response capability in our health departments, just like we do with fire and police departments all around the country.”
The “Ready or Not?” report shows Iowa failed to meet four out of 10 public health goals, such as having an adequately staffed laboratory to conduct tests during a prolonged outbreak of infectious disease. Iowa was faulted for failing to require that child care facilities have an evacuation plan for disasters, too. Fewer than half the state’s children have been vaccinated against whooping cough, according to the report, another black mark on Iowa’s emergency preparedness report card.
The analysis concluded the states of Kansas and Montana were least prepared to deal with disasters. Five states got the highest score — 8 out of 10 — and Wisconsin was among that group. No other neighboring state scored that well.