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Report Ranks Oklahoma Best In Nation In Health Preparedness

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If a major health emergency struck, would we be ready? A new report says most states are not, but Oklahoma was singled out for being better prepared. News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims has more on why the high marks should make you feel safer.

They've practiced how they would immunize Tulsans against smallpox, readied teams to respond to a bioterrorist attack and rehearsed how to mobilize and coordinate a response from a central command center. Oklahoma's first responders have practiced and practiced, its that practice that’s made us near perfect, according to a new study.

"Well we're very excited to get recognized as leading the nation for preparedness for a bioterrorism event," Tulsa City-County Health Department spokesperson Melanie Christian said.

Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit organization focused on health issues, just released its report “Ready or Not.” While most states only met half of the ten criteria, Oklahoma earned a perfect ten out of ten. The Sooner state scored high for its testing capabilities, flu surveillance system, vaccination rate, and public health funding.

"The Oklahoma connection to being used to natural disasters, as well as a terrorist event has helped us take it a little more seriously," Christian said.

A converted ambulance is a key tool in disaster preparedness; it acts as a mobile lab, allowing technicians to test for biological agents like anthrax right at the scene.

Be it anthrax, small pox, bird flu or some other pandemic, Christian says we're ready and getting more prepared all the time. And that should make everyone feel a little safer.

"Well, think it's important. It's a sense of comfort. That someone is out there in the community preparing; ready to take care of the community if something were to happen," said Christian.

Tulsa City-County Health Department officials say they're doing their part to be prepared, but you need to pitch in as well. They advise every family to come up with a disaster plan and to stockpile bottled water and canned goods, just in case.
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