Update: On Monday, Commissioners approved the purchase of an emergency alert system for Knox County.

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Every minute counts when dealing with an emergency situation.

Monday, Knox County leaders are expected to vote on a system designed to give people a warning when trouble is on the way.

Knox Commissioner Mike Hammond said, "If it's two o'clock in the morning and there's a tornado coming near my community, I'd like to know as soon as possible."

Commissioner Hammond is behind the proposal for the county to buy the mass notification system that would alert residents by phone call, email, or text message of a public emergency in their area of the county.

If approved, the county would enter into a contract with Federal Signal Safety and Security Systems for the alert system. Commissioner Hammond, who's confident the measure will be approved, said it's the same type of system used to alert Moore, OK residents of an EF5 tornado.

"They had one of these systems and 14 minutes was the lead time. Unfortunately some people lost their lives, but we know that saved lives and that's the whole purpose of this.

East Tennessee certainly knows the devastation of tornadoes, but Commissioner Hammond said the alert system can be used for weather situation and other emergency events.

"We've also had chemical spills on the interstate, for example. We've had a train situation down in Farragut where we had to evacuate. Those are the kinds of things that we will be able to use this system for."

The alert system will cost $29,768.10 the first year and $17,666.24 for subsequent years.

Knox County 911 workers will be responsible for sending out the emergency alerts when necessary. Commissioner Hammond says if the notification system is approved, 911 workers could begin training within days of approval and the emergency mass notification system could be in place within 30 - 60 days.

Residents will have to opt-in to receive the emergency alerts. Commissioner Hammond said it would be a free service (standard phone rates will apply).

The Knox County Commission meeting will be held Monday, October 28, 2013 at 1:45 PM at the City County Building (400 Main Street, Suite 602, Knoxville, TN 37902).

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