EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation – June 25, 2003

The Prepositioned Equipment Program (PEP)

Francis R. Lepage
Lead Emergency Management Specialist
DHS Office for Domestic Preparedness
State and Local Program Management Division, Equipment Support Branch

Avagene Moore CEM
Moderator, EIIP Coordinator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and
comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See
our homepage at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! On behalf of Amy Sebring and myself, we are happy to see everyone here today. Our session discussion today covers the Prepositioned Equipment Program (PEP), a Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) program. The URL for the ODP page is http://www.ojp.doj.gov/odp. Please check it out at your convenience.

Our special guest is Francis (Frank) R. Lepage, Lead Emergency Management Specialist for the Equipment Support Branch, DHS Office for Domestic Preparedness, State and Local Program Management Division. Mr. Lepage has management responsibility for several ODP equipment programs including the Prepositioned Equipment Program (PEP), the Domestic Preparedness Equipment Technical Assistance Program (DPETAP), the Grant Assistance Program (GAP), the Homeland Defense Equipment Reuse Program (HDER), and other initiatives involving interoperability of first responder equipment and communication systems. Mr. Lepage is a subject matter expert for ODP dealing with WMD domestic preparedness equipment programs and has been instrumental in the development of several key components of ODP's Equipment Program.

The EIIP is very pleased to host this session today. It is my pleasure to welcome Frank Lepage to the EIIP Virtual Forum!


Frank Lepage: Thank you, Avagene. It is a pleasure to be here and to see all Virtual Forum participants. We are here to talk about the Prepositioned Equipment Program (PEP). My remarks are an overview of the program. I will address your questions at the appropriate time.

The Nation faces a continuing threat of attack with chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) weapons of mass destruction (WMD). To prepare for this threat, State and local officials must have resources immediately available to sustain and replenish assets depleted by the initial response to a major incident.

Long before the events of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice had commenced training and planning to prepare for a possible terrorist attack. The Department of Justice Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) had conducted exercises and training with many of New York City's first responders. A senior New York City firefighter who chaired an ODP advisory panel was one of those who died on that tragic day.

Careful analysis of the September 11th attack has demonstrated that an incident of terrorism can rapidly deplete local supplies and equipment. Despite the fact that many State and local jurisdictions have purchased new equipment in the aftermath of September 11th it is unrealistic to expect that all jurisdictions can be fully equipped to provide an adequate, sustained response to a major terrorist incident. To meet this critical need, the ODP launched the Prepositioned Equipment Program (PEP).

PEP consists of standardized equipment pods that are prepositioned in selected geographic areas to permit rapid deployment to States and localities facing a major CBRNE event. In 11 planned locations Nationwide, highly specialized equipment and necessary off-the-shelf items will be stored in pods, transportable by land or air within 1 to 12 hours after help is requested. This equipment is specifically tailored to sustain and reconstitute the capabilities of local and State first responders to react to a terrorist attack or other major emergency. Through formal request and deployment procedures, the Federal Government will transfer PEP pods to specifically designated local or State officials.

You may be wondering about the origin of the PEP program. To explain it, let me give you a bit of ODP background. Created by Congress in 1998, ODP was established at U. S. Department of Justice to support and strengthen the capacity of the Nation's emergency first responder community through equipment, training, exercises, and technical assistance. With passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, ODP has become part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The planning for PEP began in February 2001. To design PEP, ODP established a team of subject matter experts as well as an advisory working group made up of senior emergency responders from major metropolitan areas across the country. The current team includes representatives of local law enforcement, fire departments, public health services, National Guard, the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command, and the Naval Research Laboratory.

The PEP planning process considered the needs of all responder functions, including fire, HAZMAT, emergency medical, and law enforcement. ODP analyzed threats to America's primary population centers and integrated findings from previous studies as well as lessons learned from experience, to provide a coordinated approach for the PEP program.

The collaboration of Federal, State, and local agencies has been comprehensive. Federal agencies included the Office of National Coordinator for Security Infra-structure Protection and Counter-Terrorism, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, National Guard, Naval Research Laboratory, and Marine Corps Systems Command. Local and State agencies included emergency fire services, emergency medical services, hazardous response units, and law enforcement agencies.

The PEP will give us national coverage. A total of 11 operational PEP sites are being phased in over a 2-year period. Strategically placed throughout the country, these equipment pods will be available to respond to an incident in any major population area across the continental U.S. within 6 hours after receiving a movement order; and will be available to 100 percent of the population within 12 hours.

The ODP plan provides for immediate ground or air transportation of the first pod, including a team of support staff. At the same time, ODP staff will send a mobile communications system to ensure that first responders have interoperable communications at the scene. If circumstances warrant an even greater level of support, ODP may dispatch additional, fully equipped pods to the site, either by air or ground. PEP will deploy four elements to the disaster site: (1) PEP Equipment Set; (2) PEP Support Team; (3) Communications Interoperability System; and (4) Pine Bluff Arsenal Support Staff.

Each PEP equipment set includes devices, tools, supplies, and additional materiel most likely needed by the initial on-scene responders to sustain their efforts. A PEP pod is sized to support the initial response to a major incident in a large metropolitan area. Equipment inventories were developed from:

  • Standardized Equipment List 2001 from the Interagency Board for Equipment Standardization and Interoperability
  • FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team Equipment List
  • Lessons learned from September 11, 2001, and the earlier Oklahoma City and 1993 World Trade Center attacks.

PEP equipment is supplied to replenish and reconstitute a minimum of 100 fire/HAZMAT, 25 emergency medical, and 25 law enforcement personnel conducting emergency response operations in the hot zone at the incident site. Examples of equipment include: (1) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); (2) Chemical, Biological and Radioactive Agent Detection Instruments; (3) Medical Supplies and Equipment; (4) Search Equipment; (4) Decontamination Equipment; and (5) Logistics Equipment.

Each PEP is staffed by personnel selected from the local community and the team will be based at each PEP storage site. The PEP staff manage the equipment set and performs associated logistics, including maintenance and calibration functions. These uniformed and highly trained staff are available to respond to emergencies 24/7.

Through PEP, incident sites will receive fully interoperable mobile radio communications. Following the initial deployment, the affected jurisdiction will also receive interoperable communications from ODP that can supplement or reconstitute communications at the incident site. The ODP equipment is fully interoperable with standard systems used by emergency responders and incident commands.

The U.S. Army's Pine Bluff Arsenal, a major training partner of ODP, will deploy Rapid Response Teams to the site of a terrorist attack. Upon arrival at the scene of a terrorist attack, these experts will assist State and local agencies with chemical and biological threats by providing equipment and technical assistance.

Authority to order the movement and transfer of PEP rests with DHS. The standardized procedure for deployment and transferal to officials involves only four steps:

  1. Request by Governor: In the event of a disaster, the local jurisdiction will make a request, through the State's Governor, for the transfer of the PEP;

  2. Approval by Department of Homeland Security (DHS): The Governor's request goes to a Command Center in Washington, D.C. Following approval by the DHS, ODP will alert the PEP Support Team to begin deployment;

  3. Transportation Security to Site: The local and/or State authorities making the deployment request will provide ground escort/convoy security to the designated logistics site; and

  4. Coordination with Local Agencies: When the PEP pod arrives at the attack site, equipment will be turned over to local/State agencies and the PST will provide support.

The PEP training and exercise program will be fully integrated into ODP's ongoing training and exercise programs. ODP has assigned the lead for PEP training to the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), part of the Texas A&M University System. TEEX also manages and maintains the PEP training equipment pod located at College Station, Texas. The training program includes two major components: An 80-hour course that includes 1) Maintenance (40 hours) and 2) Deployment (40 hours). In addition, a 5 to 6-hour management training course will be available on CD for self-paced instruction.

The National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) will also support the integrated PEP training and exercise program. Consortium members include the Center for Domestic Preparedness, Ft. McClellan, AL; National Emergency Response & Rescue Training Center, National Exercise, Test, and Training Center, Nevada Test Site; Energetic Materials Research & Testing Center; New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and National Center for Bio-Medical Research and Training, Louisiana State University.

The PEP exercise program will employ scenario-based, hands-on exercises conducted by ODP's National Exercise Program Division in coordination with local and State jurisdictions. WMD preparedness exercises are realistic, multi-team, or multi-agency training events, based on threat-driven scenarios, designed to evaluate performance, reinforce training, and provide positive feedback.

ODP has established a national capability for ongoing PEP logistics support as well as the ability to manage emergency operation of PEP during a crisis such as an attack involving situations and weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The ODP management plan for PEP includes communications, equipment logistics, alert, and notification procedures, and the deployment of PEP assets.

The PEP information management network will utilize an Integrated Data Environment (IDE), a virtual network that interconnects all PEP sites and staff. This secure, encrypted web-based system will allow ODP staff to interface with all sites to enhance program management and communications. ODP has established a national logistics and storage facility at a secure military installation where vital management functions may be performed. This facility orders, ships and controls all the assets that comprise PEP. Staff at the National Logistics Activity also operate PEP's inventory control and tracking system.

ODP has also established a Deployment Control Center for the management of PEP operations during an emergency. The Center is being operated by the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command, and it will carry out the following four critical functions:

  1. Alert/Notification: Immediate notification of Federal officials responsible for deployment of PEP equipment sets across the Nation;
  2. Activation: An automated checklist system to activate PST's and commence loading of equipment sets;
  3. Transportation: Movement of PEP equipment sets by land and air will be managed by the Deployment Control Center, including coordination with both military and civil authorities; and
  4. State and Local First Responders: A database of Federal, State and local officials who may receive equipment and must be contacted in the event of an emergency.

This concludes my formal remarks. I now turn the floor back to Avagene for the Q&A part of today's session.

[Audience Questions & Answers]


Greg Banner: You mentioned the Pine Bluff team has a bio capability. Please explain.

Frank Lepage: Hi Greg, the PBA team trains jurisdictions on equipment use, technical applications and limitations of the equipment jurisdictions purchase with ODP grant funds. PBA bio-capabilities refer to their training capabilities which, in the area of bio, are limited.


A.J. McNamara: What are the PEP plans for supplies related to mass decontamination? A surge of victims beyond what was "planned for" is the issue.

Frank Lepage: Very good question A.J. The PEP is designed to replenish first responders working in the hot zone at the incident site. It isn't designed to provide sustainment support or equipment to meet the needs of the community as a whole. Very often we hear similar questions from state and locals, it’s easy to confuse the purpose of PEP with the pressing needs of locals authorities who have to plan for catastrophic events.

A.J. McNamara: Are there any plans to add decon supplies?

Frank Lepage: A.J. the equipment set in PEP includes limited decon capabilities; we have a decon system for the response team(s) but not for mass casualty decon. Please keep in mind that PEP is providing support for only 150 first responders.


Bary Lusby: Have the 11 sites been selected?

Frank Lepage: Hi Bary, yes the sites have been approved by DHS, formerly by the Department of Justice before we integrated with DHS. Now that we're physically in the department the sites have been accepted as a matter of record. The sites will be located in geographic metro areas. We're not mentioning specific cities if we can help it, but do acknowledge their locations in greater metropolitan areas. Site locations include Camp Smith, NY, Stewart AF Base, NY, Salt Lake area, St Louis metro area, Puget Sound area, LA County metro area, Central South Carolina, Pinellas County, FL., Albuquerque metro area, Hennepin County, MN and northern Virginia.


Randall Duncan: How do we get access for local teams getting training for PEP? We are currently an MMRS site (Sedgwick County -- Wichita, Ks.).

Frank Lepage: Thank you for asking this question Randall. There currently isn't formal training available for local jurisdictions. As we establish operations in specific locations, PEP Support Teams will be hired and trained to work in the program. These individuals will be required to deploy with the equipment whenever attacks occur. Each PST has a compliment of two full time and 12 part time staff who can be called upon for a deployment. These individuals are fully trained and will remain in site at the location until we are n longer needed.


Roman Kaluta: With communications interoperability being the backbone for command and control and incident management, has ODP given any consideration to expand the number of prepositioned TRP-1000's nationally in addition to those fielded a few years ago? There are a number of jurisdictions looking to add communications interoperability to their regions, but lack funding.

Frank Lepage: Roman, communication interoperability is a huge challenge for everyone at every level of government. Currently ODP provides state and local agencies with funds to purchase communications equipment as well as other equipment jurisdictions might need. ODP doesn't plan on prepositioned communications equipment like the ACU or TRP 1000. Instead, agencies can acquire this technology to meet their own operational needs.

However, ODP can assist with training and technical assistance to make sure jurisdictions maximize equipment that is currently on hand like TRP-1000, and integrate these in the communications infrastructure. Technical assistance would help with developing requirements analysis, identifying current capabilities, and providing an engineering architecture that would be the road map jurisdictions could use to achieve communications interoperability. We expect to be able to provide this type of technical assistance to selected jurisdictions soon; unfortunately there isn't any plan to provide a large stock of TRP-1000 or other similar technologies in the PEP program.


Jim Miller: What plans are being made at the local level to receive this equipment and how is planning being funded?

Frank Lepage: Hi Jim. The PEP program is not as large as it might sound, even though we are planning for a national capability. We simply don't have the resources to ensure state and local planning is being accomplished for PEP the way that you have indicated in your question. We are meeting with as many states as we can to notify them of PEP, encourage them to integrate PEP in the planning process, and make them aware of PEP capabilities.

How to request the equipment and what the process is to receive the equipment -- basically, the Governor's Homeland Security Adviser will submit the state's request for PEP to DHS. DHS will then authorize ODP to activate PEP deployment operations. Coordination between the state, ODP, and the local receiving agency will be handled by us to ensure the equipment arrives where it is needed.


Bob Paone: Are you working/coordinating with CDC and SNS program and are PEP and SNS requested simultaneously? [Note: ‘SNS’ is the Strategic National Stockpile, recently renamed from the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile (NPS).]

Frank Lepage: Hi Bob. Do you mean the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile program? If so, these are not resources that should be or need to be handled simultaneously. The question comes up frequently though. Because the CDC/NPS is a turnkey resource, states and locals have to plan to integrate the arrival of CDC assets -- to provide bodies and other resources in the planning process. PEP is dissimilar in that we provide the on-site crew to manage and distribute the equipment when it is needed. Basically, all we need is a location to set up operations. In answer to your question, no, they do not need to be requested at the same time.


Rick Alumbaugh: Does the Marine Command act as support for the local unified command, and do all decisions still rest with the unified command?

Frank Lepage: Hi Rick. We are at the disposal of the incident commander but in no way become part of or augment the unified command structure. PEP really becomes one of the equipment assets for the IC. The Marine Corps Systems Command, although involved in other Federal response programs like CBIRF and CST, are not playing a similar role in PEP. Their charge in PEP is to provide logistics support and personnel for PEP.


Tim McAndrew: (Las Vegas OEM) Dimensions and weight of pod for ground transportation and floor space requirements to breakdown?

Frank Lepage: Thanks Tim. We need about 6000 square feet of space to set up operations. Of course, depending on the weather, we may require indoor space to operate effectively. But we have included a logistics package in PEP so that our personnel are able to set up operations and sustain themselves without burdening the local agency.


Miguel Ascarrunz: Are there plans to have a PEP orientation video for local familiarization purposes, especially for incident commander types who need to know about available Federal resources?

Frank Lepage: We plan to provide this in the future; in the meantime we have briefing materials available to educate state and local agencies on PEP. Send me a e-mail and we'll send this information to you ([email protected]).


Chuck Jacobi: Good afternoon Frank. What qualifications, if any, are preferred for team members and how, or by whom, will the team members be chosen? If team members are drawn from a local fire department will the department's recommendation be considered for the selection process?

Frank Lepage: Excellent question Chuck. We hope to work with local agencies closely to get the best pool of qualified candidates. I've asked MARCORSYS to reach out to the locals (I'm guiding them with contact names, etc.) to make sure they conduct the personnel search with appropriate authorities from the State and local community.


Isabel McCurdy: Are there any mutual aid agreements with Canada to access this program?

Frank Lepage: Hi Isabel, this is something we still have to coordinate. Our experiences in TopOff made us aware of some of the requirements we might face should an incident occur on our borders. Although we are prepared to respond the necessary planning hasn't been accomplished yet; there are still the remaining sites to become operational this year.


Don Druitt: (Fort Lauderdale OEM) Are you prepared to integrate this equipment into an NLD level exercise? If so, December is ours in Ft Lauderdale and we would be glad to have your team on board.

Frank Lepage: Hi Don, this is one of the problems we face. Integrating PEP in local exercise planning is something ODP can easily do, but physically moving the equipment from one location to another presents several challenges. First is depleting site readiness at one location to support a state or local exercise involving moving the PEP has severe limitations and may not be possible. However, integrating PEP in table-top and command post exercises can be done.


Bob Paone: Frank, can you please direct me to a web site, if possible, where information on states responsibilities for requesting and receiving PEP may be found?

Frank Lepage: Bob, we haven't published information, due to the nature of its sensitivity; however, I can send you briefing materials that explain this in greater detail.


Amy Sebring: Regarding an earlier question as to ground transport, I believe this slide from a previous session shows: http://www.emforum.org/vforum/topoff/slide04.htm.


Avagene Moore: We are out of time for today's session. For those who may have other questions, Frank's email address is [email protected] .

Frank, we sincerely appreciate your time and effort on our behalf today. If you will allow me to make a couple of announcements:

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We are proud to announce three new EIIP Partners since our last session:

If interested in partnering with the EIIP, please see the Partnership link on our homepage http://www.emforum.org/partners/criteria.htm .

We will have the transcript of today's session posted later this afternoon. Please look for it then.

Thanks to everyone for participating today - you have been a great audience - and please help us thank Frank Lepage for his fine presentation. Frank, you did a great job! Best wishes as you continue your work with the PEP Pods and other DHS-ODP programs. Thank you!

The EIIP Virtual Forum is adjourned!