Home Emergency Management News U.S. Disaster Preparedness Is Improving, But Varies By State

U.S. Disaster Preparedness Is Improving, But Varies By State


U.S. national health security and preparedness by state

The collective ability of U.S. states to prepare for and respond to disasters has shown improvement in the last three years, a recent report revealed.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released the results of the 2016 National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI). Overall, the U.S. scored 6.7 on the 10-point scale for preparedness, which signifies a 3.6 percent improvement since the publishing of the first NHSPI three years ago.

The NHSPI essentially tracks and measures the abilities of different U.S. states to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and other large-scale emergencies that pose risks to health and well being. The Index acts as an annual assessment of emergency preparedness, and, each U.S. state receives its own NHSPI score. Furthermore, each state's overall preparedness score is a compilation of scores in the following six domains:

  • Health Security Surveillance: Monitoring and detecting health threats, and identifying where hazards begin and spread so as to be contained rapidly.
  • Community Planning & Engagement: Developing and maintaining supportive relationships among agencies; Developing shared plans for disaster response.
  • Incident & Information Management: Deploying resources properly so as to best protect health and safety.
  • Healthcare Delivery: Ensuring access to high-quality medical services through the entire course of emergencies.
  • Countermeasure Management: Storing and deploying medical and pharmaceutical products that prevent and treat exposure, disease, etc.
  • Environmental & Occupational Health: Maintaining the security and safety of necessary supplies, and guarding against contaminants.

Maryland tops the preparedness charts

Maryland tallied the highest NHAPI score of any state in the 2016 Index, as its score of 7.6 was approximately 13 percent higher than the 6.7 national average. Maryland scored especially high in the category "incident and information management," with a score of 9.8 out of 10, and also tested well in the "health security surveillance" category, with a score of 8.2 out of 10.

New York ranked second of all states with an overall score of 7.5, while Minnesota (7.4), New Hampshire (7.3), Vermont (7.3), Virginia (7.3) Rhode Island (7.2), Illinois (7.1), Oregon (7.0), and Utah (7.0) also excelled with comprehensive preparedness scores of 7-out-of-10 and greater.

And each of those top-performing states had varying strengths and weaknesses when the scores were broken down by category, as well. New York, for example, excelled in the "environmental and occupational health" category with an impressive score of 9.4 out of 10 but struggled in healthcare delivery (4.7/10), while Minnesota had a clear strength in environmental and occupational health (9.6/10) offset by a low 5.7/10 score in healthcare delivery.

Louisiana is least prepared

Many southern states dotted the bottom tier of the rankings, with Louisiana receiving the worst overall Index score of 5.6 out of 10. Mississippi (5.8 out of 10) and Alabama (5.9/10) also had overall scores of less than 6.0, along with Montana (5.7/10), Arizona (5.8/10), and Nevada (5.9/10). And both Arkansas (6.2/10) and Georgia (6.2/10) scored just slightly better than nearby Louisiana.

According to the Index, Louisiana really struggled in healthcare delivery (3.1/10), community planning and engagement (5.0/10), and environmental and occupational health (5.1/10). Montana, which scored second-lowest overall, struggled in community planning and engagement (3.1/10) and also scored low in both healthcare delivery (4.4/10) and environmental and occupational health (5.5/10).

About the 2016 NHSPI

The 2016 NHSPI is the third annual comprehensive report on U.S. national health security and preparedness. Responsibility for the NHSPI transferred to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for this most recent Index after it was previously supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and developed through a joint effort involving more than 30 organizations, including the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and Johns Hopkins University.

For more information: Explore your state's NHSPI score here

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.