The Office of Laboratory Emergency Preparedness and Response (OLEPR) was formed for the purpose of developing, exercising, and maintaining all aspects of emergency preparedness and response involving the State Public Health Laboratory in its leadership position in Maryland. Responsibilities include oversight of laboratory activities under the CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Cooperative Agreement, assisting in the development of and coordinating training conferences and exercises for first responders and their interactions with the Laboratories Administration, providing support for the Bioterrorism (BT) and Chemical Terrorism (CT) staff in the Laboratories Administration, formation and training of incident command teams (NIMS), formation and training of an All-Hazards Response Team under the Laboratories Administration’s Incident Command System (National Incident Management System – NIMS), as well as many other tasks.
The OLEPR developed and maintains the Maryland State Biological Agents Registry (BAR) Program, formed under legislation by the Maryland Legislature in 2002. The BAR Program registers 'persons' maintaining, transferring, or possessing select agents in Maryland. The OLEPR established and maintains the Maryland Laboratory Response Network (MLRN) including Sentinel and Level 3 Laboratory Oversight. The OLEPR is the liaison for, and provides guidance to the Laboratories Administration regarding the APHIS/CDC Select Agent Program.
The OLEPR provides the 24/7/365 Emergency Contact for Terrorism Events (actual and suspected). The primary contact person carries a State cell phone (410-925-3121). The secondary contact person carries a pager (410-408-7521).
In order to respond to threats of terrorism, the Laboratories Administration has developed a network of personnel who have the knowledge and equipment to effectively handle samples submitted for biological, chemical, and radiological testing. These labs have the capability of testing for agents such as anthrax, tularemia, ricin, botulinum toxin, cyanide, trace metals, and different categories of pesticides. Samples can vary from white powders, environmental samples, various foodstuffs, or clinical specimens. The programs are maintained and improved by the funding of the CDC Cooperative Agreement in order to support the ongoing mission of protecting the health of the public through the continued training of its employees and purchase of state-of-the-art equipment.