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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Tennessee Hospitals Stage One of Nation’s Largest Disaster Drills

Fifty-four hospitals across Eastern Tennessee drew together Nov. 6 to stage one of the nation’s largest disaster drills.  The scenario opened with two coordinated explosions at the Neyland Stadium, where large crowds gathered for an event in Knoxville.

Approximately 1,000 volunteers acted as survivors; many were injured severely during the mocked explosion, while others sustained injuries at different levels, trying to flee the chaotic scene. Some of the survivors were transported without identification and were separated from loved ones or friends.

The exercise tested the region’s hospitals and surge plans, as well as mass causality plans and proved the importance of preparedness and response when participating hospitals have the ability to work together and activate their surge plans, reflecting the critical and life- saving value and impact  that preparedness and response training provides. 

Communications coordination proved to be one of the key successes according to Charity Menefee, regional hospital coordinator for the emergency preparedness section with the Knox County Health Department.

Things flowed well primarily because of the relationships built through the East Tennessee Healthcare Coalition that enabled each region to work across jurisdictions, Ms. Menefee explained. Understanding one another’s resource capabilities was critical, as was proving the coalition’s ability to activate their surge plans in response to a large scale mock causality event.

By using Regional Hospital Coordinators, the core team served as the main point of contact for hospitals reacting to emergency response planning. They used the Hospital Resource Tracking System to update service capabilities and immediate bed availabilities. 

The East Tennessee Healthcare Coalition’s full scale exercise reflected the evolving system in healthcare, and showcased the direct impact that the Hospital Preparedness Program, readiness, and response have in real life disasters such as the Boston marathon.

  • This page last reviewed: June 17, 2016