The National Institute of Health has placed a massive order for protective clothing and supplies that could make it impossible for you to procure your own gear.

And by massive, I mean a year’s supply for employees of facilities across the country, replenished throughout the year no matter what happens, and taking priority over any personal orders.

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Here’s some of the text of the solicitation, entitled “EMERGENCY DISASTER EVENT PREPARATION FOR PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)”. Some portions are bold for emphasis.

The Contract will consist of a base year with four (4) option years. In addition to establishing and maintaining PPE as an emergency and disaster resource, the vendor must provide high quality laboratory PPE that meet the specifications as outlined below. Since PPE products have a definitive shelf life, to maintain the integrity of the stocked items the vendor shall deliver requested items from the reserve to the facility on a routine basis or upon request as outlined below. In addition, the vendor shall reestablish the reserve as directed by the Government on a monthly basis. It is the vendor’s responsibility to manage the reserve to ensure the continued rotation of product to protect the integrity of the resource.

Project requirements:

Therefore, the vendor must be able to supply the following goods or services:

1. Provide PPE products identical or equivalent to Life Science SMS Lab Coats, Polypropylene Coveralls, SMS Coveralls, Suntech Microporous Film Coveralls, the Non-Skid/Water Resistant shoe covers, Guardian Nitrile Gloves, and Rhino Shield Latex Medical Grade Gloves. PPE items may be added, subtracted, or otherwise modified at the discretion of the Government to meet evolving program requirements;

2. Ensure that the lab coats and coveralls meet the sizing specifications, salient characteristics and physical properties as outline below;

3. Ensure that the gloves meet the salient characteristic as outline below;

4. Provide a specialized temperature, humidity, and vermin controlled storage/warehouse, as outlined below;

5. Provide routine deliveries to our research facility. Deliveries will be made Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 3:00 PM (excluding Federal Holidays);

6. Provide emergency deliveries and services in the event of an emergency or disaster;

7. Ensure that the integrity of the products is maintained throughout storage and delivery. This includes, but is not limited to, protection from moisture and dust which may carry unwanted pathogens;

8. Ensure that less than five percent (<5%) of boxes/items are torn, ripped, or damaged upon delivery; to include faulty zippers within the coveralls.

9. Provide a credit/replacement, at the contractor’s expense, for all broken, torn, ripped, or damaged PPE items;

10. Provide return trips to correct an incorrect product delivery/order or replace damaged items within 24 hours of the original required delivery date and time;

11. Unload pallets from the delivery truck and place them on the designated animal facility loading dock;

12. Maintain current and accurate product inventory details and controls to ensure the rotation of stock, timely dating, and delivery;

13. Supply a copy of the current inventory, including inventory numbers of each product by manufacturer and production dates, to the COTR on a monthly basis, at the end of each month, or upon request;

14. Provide an Operations Statement which includes the vendors program for maintaining the integrity of the stored and delivered products, as well as product rotation and inventory programs; and

15. Provide a Disaster Plan to include how the contractor shall ensure the provision of services and transportation of required supplies in the event of an emergency or disaster.

But don’t worry, the solicitation, dated October 14, says that the PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) is needed because of the danger of working in animal laboratories. This has NOTHING to do with Ebola.

2. The Building 49 Central Animal Facility (CAF) located on the Bethesda campus of the National Institutes of Health contributes to the advancement of biomedical research by providing professional and technical support services related to laboratory animal care and use, and housing laboratory animals in support of eight institute’s intramural research program. In order to support our animals and the critical research programs they represent, we must ensure consistent supply PPE materials, even during emergency and disaster situations. Due to the critical nature of these supplies our program requirements have been incorporated into both our Facility and Institute disaster preparedness plans.

3. The value of disaster preparedness to laboratory animal facilities has been highlighted in recent years, because of several large scale disasters that have impacted the U.S. research investment. Disaster preparedness in the workplace seeks to reduce direct and indirect losses resulting from disasters. Losses are smallest when the disruptions to animal care and research are minimized. During emergency/disaster events, the normal supply and distribution channels will most likely be unavailable/or protracted due to the impact of the emergency and the rush of immediate orders. Our program’s disaster plan takes these factors into account; it is therefore our intention is to establish an offsite source of critical supplies with an established, laboratory animal PPE vendor with a proven track record of providing quality products and services. As outlined in our emergency plan it is the intention of our program to be able to house up to a one year’s supply of PPE products with a local vendor within a 90 mile radius of NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. The ideal vendor will need a strong disaster plan and have arrangements made with the state and federal agencies in the event of an emergency and or disaster to be able to arranged deliveries to the NIH. As a secondary backup, in the event that the vendor is not able to transport the required supplies we will work with the local vendor to directly pick up the required items.

4. The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (8th Edition) defines animal biosecurity as “all measures taken to identify, contain, prevent and eradicate known or unknown infections that may cause clinical disease or alter physiologic and behavioral responses or otherwise make the animals unsuitable for research”. The National Animal Health Emergency Management System Guidelines define biosecurity for animal production facilities similarly as “a series of management practices designed to prevent the introduction of and spread of disease agents.” Therefore, as part of our program’s “Biosecurity Program” we must ensure the provision of an uninterrupted supply of essential supplies, this plan is a shared responsibility between our program and the selected vendor to ensure the consistent availability of high quality PPE products and services.

Gosh, that’s a relief. At first I was concerned that the government was expecting a pandemic or something.  Although, for some silly reason, I keep thinking about The Stand, by Stephen King.

If you are NOT relieved by this soothing information about animal laboratories, NOW is the time to make your purchases.  When I checked Amazon this morning, supplies were running low. A reader commented on The Organic Prepper that his order for 3M N100 masks was not going to be filled:

I tried to order the N100 masks and I received an email yesterday that 3M is placing a national backorder on all of these masks. They said it had to do with “government obligations”. Just wanted to let you know!

Here’s the list. At the time of publication, these items were still available. I’ve made some updates based on the solicitation above.

To learn more about pandemic preparedness, check out these books and articles:

Ebola Survival Handbook: A Collection of Tips, Strategies, and Supply Lists From Some of the World’s Best Preparedness Professionals

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months

Sealing Yourself In: Prepping for Bioterrorism, Chemical Disasters, and Pandemics (The NEW Survival Prepper Guides Book 3)

“Like” Pandemic Watch on Facebook

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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]