Knox Co. Commission vote on contract for mass emergency alerts

Knox County Commission to vote on contract for mass emergency alert system

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"The timeliness is very important with tornado alerts," Knoxville/Knox County EMA Director Alan Lawson said. "The timeliness is very important with tornado alerts," Knoxville/Knox County EMA Director Alan Lawson said.
"You can either get a phone call, a text or an email," Knox County Commissioner Mike Hammond said. "This is an early warning system." "You can either get a phone call, a text or an email," Knox County Commissioner Mike Hammond said. "This is an early warning system."

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -  Knox County Commission is set to vote later this month on a contract with Federal Signal Safety and Security Systems for an emergency mass notification system.

The system includes alerts for emergencies happening in the city of Knoxville and Knox County.

The alert system would be optional for residents.

The idea is to send an immediate warning to Knox County residents in a message they can have at their fingertips.

"You can either get a phone call, a text or an email," Knox County Commissioner Mike Hammond said. "This is an early warning system."

The alerts would warn people about police or fire emergencies and most of all send weather alerts.

"It's the most common emergency that we face," Knoxville/Knox County EMA Director Alan Lawson said. "The timeliness is very important with tornado alerts."

Knox County is no stranger to tornadoes.

According to the National Weather Service, Knox County has seen five tornadoes since 2011.

"When you get into that type of situation, every minute counts, and if you could have a 15 to 20 minute warning of a weather situation, then that could save lives," Hammond said.

The way it works is that the incident commander in any given emergency situation will notify dispatch at the 911 call center.

The call center will then send out the emergency alerts, and in some cases, will narrow it down to specific areas.

Anyone signed up for the alerts will then get the message.

Hammond said law enforcement agencies in the city and county are looking forward to the help the system offers.

"It'll make their jobs easier because if people know that there is an emergency situation or that there is a weather situation coming then they're going to know about it in advance," Hammond said.

The initial cost of the alert system is $29,768.00 and each subsequent year would be $17,666.00 if the contract is approved.

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