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EOC on a Tight Budget
How does the second-most densely populated county in the state of Pennsylvania achieve National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliance on a fixed shoestring budget? The answer is very carefully, especially when funding becomes available more than two years after grant proposal submission and no funds are available for any architectural modifications. Michael Chertoff, then secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), included a foreword in the fiscal year (FY) 2006 Infrastructure Protection Grant Program for Chemical Sector Buffer Zone Protection Program (BZPP). “The preparedness mission transcends the entire department,” he said. “Our approach to preparedness aggregates critical assets within DHS to support our operating components and the work of our external partners to prevent, protect against, deter, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks and to continuously mitigate threats to America’s safety and security. The BZPP provides funding to regions with significant sector concerns to enhance the security and protection of chemical sector critical
Photo courtesy Delco EMS
Left: EOC first stage activation room, Right: second stage EOC activation room
A Pennsylvania emergency operations center (EOC) redesign met federal requirements, a tight schedule and a limited budget.
infrastructure and key resources and surrounding communities.” With Delaware By Edwin J. Truitt and William H. Wright County bordering Philadelphia County to the south, its population density is 3,000 persons per square gency management facility in Lima. A mile, second only to Philadelphia with $600,000 grant was awarded to imple10,726 persons per square mile. The ment this project in March 2009, while county’s density of population and request and submission was made as prevalent chemical industry reflect early as November 2007. numbers almost double any other The plan, developed by the office of county in the state. Complying with the director of emergency services, NIMS — a Federal Emergency Manwas to implement a design based on agement Agency (FEMA) template for the EOC renovation theory as stated in the management of incidents — on an the Delco EOC planning document: emergency operations center (EOC)“The plan will separate the unified wide level was mandatory for commucommand group from the operations nity safety. and planning group and the logistics Beginning in 2007, Delaware and finance group. Senior officials will County Office of Emergency Managebe sequestered from the command ment Services (Delco EMS) sought a group. News media and some county DHS federal grant administered liaison groups will be separated from through the Pennsylvania Emergency the remainder by keeping them in a Management Agency (PEMA). The briefing area.” BZPP grant would provide for a “techThe goal was to create a workplace nologization” of existing rooms to proprepared to manage scalable responses vide multilevel activation for an EOC to situations in the county. This would in Delaware County’s existing emerenable command, communications and
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control from the emergency management office, its liaison agencies, public health, utilities and other entities located within the county. The renovation would be accomplished through the addition of technology and taskoriented furnishings. Technology would be purchased to allow portability, enabling the relocation of the EOC from its permanent location in Lima to an off-site unprepared or partially prepared alternate facility if the primary EOC site became compromised and unusable by EOC staff. This project presented challenges of space constraints within the existing facility, limited budget, and a short timeframe for renovation construction and installation of the new technology. Design/Installation Because not all incidents require a full activation, the planned design would bring the EOC online in stages to meet and activate all components of NIMS. Preliminary sketches identifying five rooms within existing facility spaces were used as the basis of design (BOD) for the new EOC facility. This BOD reflected the goal to provide better management of events, coordination with agencies, and media and important party access. This aided in developing the following rooms based on the requirements of the grant and the needs of the county: ■ Privacy and sequestering room ■ Unified command/joint command group room ■ EOC first stage activation room ■ Second stage (full) EOC activation room ■ 9-1-1 emergency communications/network incident command structure room The deputy director of emergency services, John Gallagher, was named project director for the county. Gallagher oversaw purchasing all equipment for the project through PEMA. To implement the program and all engineering, Professional Systems Engineering (PSE) was selected by PEMA as the project consultant. PSE had responsibility for wireless, wired w w w. M C C m a g . c o m
and display/control technology facilitation, final engineering design documentation and specifications, project management and installation oversight, and full commissioning for the project. Within 45 days after notice to proceed, PSE was required to provide: ■ Full system designs, schematics, engineering details and specifications including documenting electrical, uninterruptible power supply (UPS), voice,
data, video, audio/video (A/V) control, paging, wireless and live feed signals, and control paths; ■ Detailed drawings for the electrical and A/V contractors for intensive infrastructure changes to support the technology; and ■ A critical path construction schedule to meet the project requirements while not interfering with ongoing county training schedules.
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tion be accomplished with no change orders and within a three-month timeframe. Meeting both the tight schedule and fixed budget were accomplished with both a last-minute push and great diplomacy.
Edwin Truitt is the director of Delaware County (Pa.) Emergency Services.
Because of the speed needed for design and engineering, PSE was required to generate complete wiring schematics of all wired and wireless connectivity, telephone, data, graphical user interface (GUI) controls and input/output devices. Drawings were produced two weeks after notice to proceed. With changes in models and standards in electronics occurring rapidly, PSE took advantage of accelerated technologies from what was originally selected almost two years prior. This allowed the best high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) switching and touchscreen GUI interfaces to be specified, resulting in a smooth and highly flexible installation. Within 60 days, all bids were awarded, all contracts signed, all equipment ordered. Within 90 days of funds released, all equipment was on site and being installed. The county’s emergency services IT department handled the activation of the county IT network infrastructure and phone systems. In addition, Delaware County maintenance personnel provided renovation construction required within the facility. Larry Bak, deputy emergency management coordinator, acted as liaison between system contractors and county personnel to ensure that day-to-day coordination issues arising during the installation were resolved. The project budget was fixed and couldn’t be increased; this required that the formal design, construction and implementa22
Technology Technology requirements of EOCs pre-9/11 have changed dramatically compared with post-9/11. Previously, phones, faxes, tables and radio communications were sufficient. In the post-9/11 era, officials can see what is happening instantaneously via streaming video feeds and have information delivered to EOCs in real time thanks to new information technologies. Previously, the tendency of overleveraging resources left the county spread thin. With the new management capabilities available through the EOC, critical resources can be properly used. In addition, new knowledge-centered software and communications technologies allow the five-county area through the Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Task Force to share information simultaneously. This eliminates decision-making based on invalidated information. Elected officials can make informed decisions in a fully outfitted and connected conference room, allowing for the separation of the EOC and public official spaces. The system uses the latest audio visual technology, enabling the distri-
This project presented challenges of space constraints within the existing facility, limited budget, and a short timeframe for renovation construction and installation of the new technology.
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bution and display of multimedia data from multiple sources across multiple output devices including PCs, laptop computers, file servers, eight video projectors, 12 47-inch LCD flat-screen monitors and DVD recorder/players. Two rack-mounted 32 by 32 multimedia ultra-high-speed HDMI version 1.3 switches were installed and enabled all of the elements of the audio, video cable, conference and data systems to be fed into each of the five rooms of the new EOC, including the 9-1-1 dispatch center. An existing video feed from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) highway camera system was also integrated into the multimedia presentation capability. Five touchscreen control panels provide system operators with the ability to switch any information source to any of the output devices installed in the multiple rooms across the EOC enterprise. Wireless command infrastructure was also placed throughout the facility. Four wireless laptop carts with laptops were deployed in several rooms. Fixed and portable video conferencing systems and a public address system were also integrated into the system. Each room within the EOC was equipped with both wired and encrypted Wi-Fi Ethernet. Information displayed on any desktop computer workstation can be switched to large screen displays for common viewing by EOC staff. County personnel in the 9-1-1 emergency communications/ network incident command structure room can monitor events through the addition of four new 46-inch flatscreen monitors installed on the walls around the room to provide a clear view from operator stations. The 48 wireless laptops, portable Wi-Fi, portable private branch exchange (PBX) phone system and other equipment allow for an alternate EOC command location if the center can’t accommodate its mission. This was one of the tenets met with the grant request. Power was a priority for emergency events. A new 30KVA APC UPS was w w w. M C C m a g . c o m
installed to provide transitional power for the newly installed technology, bridging the time between a power fail event and the facility emergency generator picking up the load. The new UPS was installed by the electrical contractor and commissioned by the manufacturer Feb. 11. During this time, the A/V contractor installed the display monitors, projectors and the A/V control equipment racks. prewired the facility for the arrival of The 9-1-1 center was upgraded a MC_FIRE_ADclassicSWAT_OL.ai 1 6/27/2011 9:41:28 PM
The project budget was fixed and couldn’t be increased; this required that the formal design, construction and implementation be accomplished with no change orders and within a three-month timeframe.
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few years ago with new consoles and radio equipment. New large-format flat-screen multimedia monitors were added to the 9-1-1 facility under this design to keep the call center operators apprised of developments during EOC activation to help them respond appropriately to calls received in the center. On March 18, the consultant witnessed the final test and operation of the completed system. Completion of design and issuance of the equipment suppliers’ notice to proceed to final test and commissioning took 111 days, and the EOC was up and running — on budget. Facilitation of this approach in retrofitting Delaware County EOC was innovative, allowing a fixed budget requested two years earlier to still reflect the most advanced technology available to the EOC, while avoiding change orders. In this economy of rising equipment costs, the ability to procure more than originally requested using newer technology was a reflection of innovative engineering matching EOC needs to appropriate product selection. ■ Edwin J. Truitt is a certified emergency manager who has been director of Delaware County (Pa.) Emergency Services since 1976. Since 1991, Truitt has led the 9-1-1 mission and worked with former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and many jurisdictions throughout the United States. William Wright is a certified protection professional (CPP) by the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS), a certified security consultant (CSC) and is board certified in Homeland Security Level III (CHS-III) by the American College of Forensic Examiners. Email comments to email@example.com. w w w. M C C m a g . c o m