A report that came out last Wednesday confirmed what we Wisconsinites have know all along - that the state is prepared for disasters.
The report, "Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism," ranked Wisconsin and four other states as the most prepared for emergencies.
The report rated states on readiness to deal with disease, disaster and bioterrorism. It was prompted by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which showed "how limited public health emergency preparedness was in the United States." The areas it looked at included public health funding, vaccination rates, ability to adapt to effects of climate change (both weather and health threats), emergency management accreditation, capacity to respond to infectious disease outbreak and chemical threats.
The fact that Wisconsin ranked high should offer residents some comfort.
What the report doesn't take into account, though, is the human element. There is no accurate way to measure such an aspect, but given the letters to the editor receive, the anecdotes we hear, the pictures our photographers take and the personal experiences we have, we can testify that Wisconsinites are ready to help each other.
The snowstorm that hit the area last Thursday is a prime example. You don't have to look hard to find examples of a neighbor removing snow from the end of another neighbor's driveway or snowblowing the sidewalks for a whole block, or a stranger helping pull or push another stranger out of a ditch.
Wisconsinites are a hardy group and they are willing to help those in need. They help out monetarily - the local Salvation Army, Stock the Shelves campaign and United Way can attest to that. But they also help out physically, by clearing snow after a blizzard or assisting stranded motorists.
This factor does not appear in any formal reports, nor is it considered when determining a state's readiness for disaster. It's a human element that can't be measured but is forever appreciated.
If it could be measured, we're sure that Wisconsin would again rank at the top, for we are a state where neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers.
Green Bay Press-Gazette