Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PA Emergency Preparedness Scrutinized

Pennsylvania received marks for eight of ten guidelines set by a national ‘emergency preparedness’ study for 2009.

The Trust for America’s Health says the state did not maintain its level of health services funding this year, or have enough staff to work the hours needed in the H1N1 emergency.

Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness Irwin Redlener says disasters like the swine flu and Hurricane Katrina should be “wake-up calls” for steady preparedness funding.

“Unfortunately, events like this, including the H1N1, are too often more like, I call them ‘snooze alarms’ than wake-up calls,” says Redlener.

“We get aroused, we spend some money, maybe we create an agency, but then we just drift back into some sort of state of complacency.”

He says government at all levels needs to define what ‘preparedness’ means for their region before they make moves on policy and funding.

Redlener says Pennsylvania’s grade reflected a national trend of spending less on emergency readiness.

He says the federal government should increase that annual funding from the current $500 million to about twice that much, plus a grant of up to $15 billion to get programs started.

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