Health Security Gets Check-Up: How Prepared is Texas for Next Emergency?

Do we have enough EMTs and paramedics in our area, and how well are hospitals prepared for a health emergency?

Turns out Texas might be just slightly more prepared than three years ago to handle the next health emergency, according to the annual update of the National Health Security Preparedness Index released on Thursday.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) says "that preparedness for disasters, disease outbreaks, and other emergencies improved each year since 2013, but current levels of health security remain far from optimal."

According to the 2016 state-by-state rankings, Texas achieved 6.6 out of 10, which is the same as last year and one tenth of a point higher than the year before.

Texas fell slightly below this year's national average of 6.8.

The report says Texas does well -- ranking an 8.7 out of 10 -- on the topic of "health security surveillance," which generally pertains to combating disease outbreaks.

Texas also came in with above-average rankings for "countermeasure measurement" and "environmental & occupational health."

In what area could the Lone Star State do better?  "Healthcare delivery," says the report, with a below-average rating of 3.6 out of 10.

For purposes of the index, healthcare delivery means "prehospital care ... generally provided by emergency medical services (EMS) and, includes 911 and dispatch, emergency medical response, field assessment and care, and transport (usually by ambulance or helicopter) to a hospital and between healthcare facilities."

In the above interview, Alonzo Plough, PhD, MPH, Vice President for Research-Evaluation-Learning and Chief Science Officer with the RWJF tells our Burton Fitzsimmons that it's the responsibility of everyone at every level to make sure we're ready for the next health emergency.

As with any type of natural disaster, it's not a matter of "if" it will happen again, it's a matter of "when."

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