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On the Third Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; Trust for America's Health Questions State of National Emergency Preparedness
Date:8/29/2008

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, with Hurricane Gustav building off the Gulf Coast, Trust for America's Health (TFAH) issued the following statement, along with questions to help assess America's ability to respond to major emergencies. TFAH also provides a set of recommendations for how the nation could better prepare for the next potential health emergency based on TFAH's annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report. Read the full report at: http://healthyamericans.org/.

"On the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we must renew our commitment to preparing for any disaster or emergency that puts Americans at risk," said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "While some progress has been made, we have a long way to go. With the current state of our preparedness, let's hope the next storm does not test our nation's defenses to the extent Katrina did only three years ago."

TFAH asks the following questions about America's current emergency planning:

-- Who is in charge of the public health emergency preparedness and response efforts of the federal government? Is there a clear chain of command that is understood within the federal government and by state/local officials? Is there similar clarity at the state and local level?

-- Will people from every community know where to go and get the support they need to safely evacuate? Will special arrangements be made for at-risk populations, including the disabled, the elderly and those without cars? Can we be sure that alternative living arrangements -- such as trailers -- will not pose new threats to the health of evacuees?

-- Is there a process in place which would ensure that uninsured victims of a potentially catastrophic hurricane have immediate access to medically necessary healthcare services?
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SOURCE Trust for America's Health
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