Quake warning system looks for support from the state

POSTED: 06:33 PM PDT Sep 13, 2012    UPDATED: 12:25 AM PDT Sep 14, 2012 
RIVERSIDE, Calif. -

The Coachella Valley is expected to be ground zero for a major earthquake sometime in the not-so-distant future.

The Coachella Valley Regional Earthquake Warning System -- or CREWS -- will give up to a 30 second warning before severe shaking starts.

It's already in place at local fire stations and more recently, at bases for Sunline buses.

But the company wants the system to have greater reach -- for when the Big One hits.

"We want to take a regional approach to earthquake warning -- provide the services to the schools, law enforcement, the hospitals, and ultimately, to the public," said Blake Goetz, project manager with CREWS and former Palm Springs fire chief.

CREWS officials took their case to a workshop in Riverside with California's Seismic Safety Commission to show how the network can be built and how it will protect people.

The state has endorsed CREWS but the company wants more support in terms of dollars -- a grant proposal that includes $1.5 million for a network in the Coachella Valley.

"We're getting a lot of traction. We believe in 30 to 60 days our grants are going to get approved and sent off to FEMA. As soon as FEMA approves it, we're going to build the network out and start protecting our citizens," said Goetz.

Commission member Mark Pazin says the group will look at the system more closely -- to analyze how it can be replicated in other quake zones around the state. And if it's worth the state's time and money.

"As you can see, they put a lot of time and effort into this. So I truly believe this early warning system will be a true template for the rest of California," said Pazin.

CREWS officials believe it's a model for the state to bring in private industry to help address public needs.

"We're going to replicate this model and we hope the state continues to embrace it. But communities don't have to wait for the state to act," said Scott Nebenzahl, vice-president of Seismic Warning Systems.