About KET Healthcare Coalition
Over one million residents live within the sixteen county geographic area of the Knox/East Tennessee Region. This area is home to thriving metropolis areas, rural communities, and serene mountain views that draw millions of tourists annually. Some of the unique aspects of this area also include:
- 37,000 acre Department of Energy Oak Ridge reservation in Anderson and Roane counties consisting of three major campuses (Y-12 National Security Complex, East Tennessee Technology Park and the Oak Ridge National Lab)
- Neyland Stadium is the sixth largest stadium in the United States, with a capacity of over 102,000. On home game days, there can be as many as an additional 100,000 people tailgating around the stadium.
- The Great Smoky Mountain National park in Sevier County is the most visited National Park in the Unites States. There are approximately 9.4 million visitors each year, twice as many as the Grand Canyon. The entrances and exits are winding two lane roads that are typically congested and make quick access nearly impossible. Many weekends host festivals increasing both the visitors and traffic congestion.
- Dollywood/Splash Country are two theme parks also located in Sevier County. These parks average 2.5 million visitors annually.
- ‘Tail of the Dragon’ in Tennessee has 318 curves in 11 miles and is said to be America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road. This road is often frequented with bears, turkeys, deer, wild boars, downed trees, ice/snow, and more than 511,000 vehicles going at excessive speeds (many of them motorcycles). The road provides dangerous access as the roads are narrow, curvy and isolated in the mountains of East Tennessee.
The Knox/East Tennessee (KET) Healthcare Coalition was established in the mid-90s when the seven hospitals in Knox County started meeting together as a sub-committee of the Knox County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). Meetings were held regularly with excellent buy in from the members from the beginning. Sharing of information, pooling of resources and recognizing vulnerabilities and gaps reinforced the value in this partnership.
Starting in 2004, coordinated exercises were done so that more realistic scenarios could be played out and lessons learned and strengths could be mutually shared. MOU’s between each hospital were signed agreeing to share resources and staff in the event of an emergency. In 2005 this group recognized the need for collaboration with the regional hospitals as well as other healthcare partners and the committee was expanded to include the fourteen hospitals in the fifteen surrounding counties. This also aligned the Coalition with the Region 2 EMS region.
Other healthcare and community organizations were included to provide a diverse representation of the many agencies needed in an event. Region wide hazard vulnerabilities assessments were done annually to identify areas of need and provided a direction for funding expenditures. In 2014, the group officially changed their name to the Knox/East Tennessee Healthcare Coalition. This Coalition remains robust in their resolve to meet the needs of the community, which is not dependent on funding allocations. The benefits of relevant exercises, strong networking of key personnel, identification of regional resources and applicable training have created the strong Coalition that now stands with one hundred percent hospital participation. We benefit community preparedness by acting as the ‘mortar between the bricks’, bringing together agencies and services to meet the needs of the event.
Currently the KET Coalition has membership from the following entities: Hospitals, (Acute and Critical Access, Children’s, Trauma Center Level 1, Psychiatric) Rehabilitation Centers, Long Term Care, Assisted Living, Hospice, Ambulatory Surgical Center, Home Health, Outpatient Rehabilitation, End Stage Renal Dialysis, Regional Blood Center, Local and State Department of Health, Regional Medical Communication Center, Emergency Medical Services, Local and State Emergency Management, Homeland Security, American Red Cross, Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities, Medical Examiner/Forensic Center.