The National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) was created in response to the 1989 EXXON VALDEZ oil spill disaster and is focused on strengthening a port community's preparedness to respond to oil spills. In planning for its PREP exercise in 2003, the oil spill response community within the Delaware River Port Complex saw an excellent opportunity to leverage the PREP exercise program to create an exercise that combined a major oil spill response with law enforcement operations that included: implementing security measures for protection of maritime infrastructure, crime scene investigation and intelligence collection.

The PREP exercise scenario involved a catastrophic oil spill that was the result of a terrorist incident. The overarching objective of the exercise was to use the Incident Command System (ICS) to manage concurrent operations involving law enforcement response (Crisis Management) and response operations aimed at protecting public health and safety (Consequence Management). To integrate the two distinct disciplines of law enforcement operations and oil spill response, the exercise objectives included: (1) testing an ICS organizational model to manage spill response and maritime security with the FBI's Joint Operations Center (JOC), which is responsible for investigation and intelligence activities; (2) developing Incident Action Plans that integrate both oil spill and maritime security operations; and, (3) using the common processes inherent in ICS, to coordinate the efforts of 25 responding agencies to create a cohesive response. In the case of the Philadelphia exercise, the convergence of crisis and consequence management required unprecedented cooperation by all responding agencies. Focusing on the Incident Command System was absolutely critical for multi-agency operations. This paper discusses the 2003 Philadelphia PREP exercise and the valuable lessons learned in conducting concurrent operations under a single management system.

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Author notes

1 The opinions or assertions in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views of the U. S. federal government.