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NH Ranked “Best” for Emergency Preparedness

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January 6, 2009

Concord, NH – New Hampshire leads the nation when it comes to preparing for emergencies, according to the Trust for America's Health report, "Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism." All states were ranked on what they have done to be ready to respond, and the report notes that New Hampshire's status is at risk of slipping because of state budget cuts.

Rich Hamburg with the Trust says federal money has also been dwindling.

"Less federal and state money means states are less likely to be able to do preparedness exercises, laboratory capacity is going to be impacted, and surveillance curtailed. A federal stimulus package should address preparedness issues."

Hamburg says that emergency preparedness is part of state infrastructure, and infrastructure is being targeted in the next round of economic recovery assistance from the federal government. Those fighting that package are concerned about increasing the federal deficit, and the possibility of higher taxes to pay off the debt.

Stephen Gorin is the executive director of the National Association of Social Workers-New Hampshire Chapter. He says it's heartening to know that New Hampshire is doing all the right things to protect the public in emergencies, but it's disheartening to hear that the state may let its guard down because of the economic meltdown.

"All the progress that's been made, and there has been some made in recent years, all that progress is really now at risk."

Hamburg notes that while big disasters get a lot of attention, New Hampshire sees its share of public health emergencies.

"It might be a flood, you might have an outbreak of food poisoning. There are a lot of different aspects of public health."

Louisiana, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin also get "best" status for quality preparedness.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - NH