Nashville, Tenn.

As an engineer for HCA’s Information Security Assurance team, Keith Walker knows a thing or two about making sure information gets communicated safely and effectively. The Red Cross has been taking full advantage of his know-how as it works to bolster emergency preparedness throughout Tennessee, and has now honored Walker for a second year in a row for his assistance in meeting that challenge.

“A number of years ago I began searching for a Red Cross volunteer who would be willing to lead our Emergency Communications Department on a statewide basis,” says David Kitchen, Chief Emergency Services Officer for the American Red Cross’ Tennessee Volunteer Region. “Over the last two years, Keith has single-handedly transformed the entire Emergency Communications area as it relates to the Red Cross.”

Connecting emergency responders

For his work, Walker received the Special Citation for Exceptional Volunteer Service. Last year, he was honored as the New Volunteer of the Year. But even with all the recognition, Walker says he’s really just doing what comes naturally.

“I saw this little project and thought it would be interesting for me to do,” he says. “But once I got into it, I saw ways we could keep going and developing the system.”

What he has overseen is the development of a radio communications network that can function if a major disaster, such as an earth- quake, should occur. Using grant funds, he led a team that developed a drop kit that could be helicoptered into affected areas and provide radio equipment capable of connecting emergency agencies, as well as send and receive email communications.

People who work with Walker say his going the extra mile does not surprise them, adding that this is a common trait among HCA employees.

“It’s part of our company culture that we really support community involvement,” says Paul Connelly, Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer. “When we have someone willing to make the extra effort like Keith is, and they can find a place where they can hone their skills and make a difference, it’s a great combination.”