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Report: Fewer than half of all states are well-prepared for a large-scale emergency

A large wildfire can be seen at night. It is burning several trees and glowing a bright orange. A line of firefighters can be seen in the foreground walking toward the fire.
Noah Berger
Associated Press
The Mendocino Complex wildfire burns in California in 2018. A new report from Trust for America's Health said that fewer than half of all states are well-prepared for a large-scale disaster — that includes being prepared for natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks.

Is your state prepared for an emergency? A new report called “Ready or Not” measures every state's emergency preparedness and finds that fewer than half of all states are well prepared. The report considered many factors including a state's readiness for infectious disease outbreaks and natural disasters.

For the rankings, the nonprofit Trust for America's Health took into consideration things such as accredited emergency management plans, patient safety in hospitals, and vaccination efforts.

In the Mountain West, Nevada and Wyoming rated “low.” New Mexico, Idaho and Utah rated in the “middle” tier. Colorado rated “high” for public health emergency preparedness.

Organization president Dr. Nadine Gracia said the most important lesson from the pandemic is that a plan needs to be in place and scalable to meet that emergency.

“We need to assure that those public health prevention programs and emergency preparedness programs have the funding that is needed and the resources that are needed to be able to support and protect the health and well-being of communities,” said Gracia.

Gracia also said states need to be more prepared for excessive heat, especially in the face of climate change.

“Heat is actually the leading weather-related cause of death in the U.S. and last year was the hottest year on record,” she said.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Yvette Fernandez is the regional reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau. She joined Nevada Public Radio in September 2021.