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State receives 7 of 10 points for emergency preparedness

December 19, 2008
by Allison Rupp
Star-Tribune

Wyoming is "light years" ahead of where it was in 2001 when it comes to emergency preparedness, the state health department said Tuesday.

"I'm not saying we are prepared for everything or that we know everything...but it is incumbent on the government to be able to respond to disaster," said Dr. Brent Sherard, medical director of the Wyoming Department of Health.

Wyoming scored right in the middle for its emergency preparedness plans, according to the sixth annual "Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism" report. The report, released annually by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, scores each state based on 10 criteria.

The state met seven of the 10 requirements, but state officials said they have met an eighth since data was collected. Twenty-three states scored an eight or higher.

Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, said federal funding for state and local emergency preparedness has been cut by 25 percent since 2005 and the worsening economic situation could further these cuts.

"The public has a right to expect fundamental help during public health emergencies," Levi said. This report aids policy makers in knowing how prepared their state is for hurricanes, pandemic flu or salmonella outbreaks, he said.

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