When you’re getting ready to take a vacation, the last thing you want to think about is what can go wrong. Still, it’s only prudent to be prepared for the worst. So here is the run down of emergency services in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Gatlinburg’s police force was established in 1945 with a compliment of 2 policemen. Today, 45 sworn officers patrol the streets keeping Gatlinburg ranked among the safest cities in America. In addition to bicycle and vehicle patrols, officers spend their time on foot, patrolling the “strip” where locals and youths like to hang out.
In 1997 the department became the first in Sevier County to receive international accreditation; at that time their Emergency Call System – wherein local hotels and motels are notified of theft or fraud and are involved in the search for persons of interest – was recognized as an exemplary program. Another program, the Citizen Out-Of-Town Checks, allows local residents to rest ease knowing the police will periodically check in on their homes while they are away.
The police department can be reached at (865) 436-5181. Or, in case of emergency, dial 911.
Gatlinburg operates 3 fire stations, providing fire protection, rescue, and emergency medical services to Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas. Departmental divisions include: operations, fire and rescue, advanced EMS ambulance services, swift water rescue, rope rescue, and hazardous materials response. Equipped with class A fire engines, tankers, rescue vehicles, a hazardous materials trailer, an ATV, and a wildlands vehicle, “The Pride of the Smokies” is ready for just about anything. To reach Gatlinburg Fire/Ambulance call (865) 436-5112.
If you find yourself in need of emergency medical services while visiting Gatlinburg please dial 911. There are numerous private EMS services in the area in addition to the 5 ambulances operated by the fire department.
For non-emergency medical treatment you may wish to visit the urgent care facility located at 2534 McGill Street in Pigeon Forge. They are equipped to handle most illnesses and injuries. However, the closest full service hospital and emergency room is Fort Sanders Sevier in Sevierville – approximately 13 miles from Gatlinburg.
Lastly, should you require aeromedical transport, LIFESTAR operates a fleet of medical transport helicopters that provide services throughout East Tennessee (within a 150 mile radius of Knoxville). LIFESTAR offers fast and safe transport accompanied by highly trained paramedical professionals.
Perhaps the most dangerous part of the Gatlinburg area is the Great Smoky Mountain backcountry. There, park rangers are called upon to respond to a great number of search and rescue emergencies every year. Trained in swiftwater rescue, vertical cave rescue, tracking, and high and low angle rescue techniques, the park rangers are prepared to intervene in any number of perilous situations.
However, the park service warns that cell phone coverage is spotty in the mountains and rescuers rarely respond using helicopters or vehicles, traveling instead on foot to the scene of an accident. It can therefore take a long time before rescue personnel are able to reach the injured party. Consequently, rangers strongly encourage caution when hiking, biking, horseback riding or camping in the backcounrty.
No one plans to have their vacation ruined by an illness or accident, but when things go terribly wrong it is comforting to know that Gatlinburg emergency personnel are on hand to help out.