PASADENA ( — Congressman Adam Schiff has announced $5 million in federal funding to help get an earthquake early warning system rolled out.

For millions of Angelenos, the politician believes it could be the difference between life and death when “the big one” hits.

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“With this advanced notice, people can take cover, automated systems can be triggered to slow down trains or manage the power grid, doctors can stop surgeries and we can protect lives and critical infrastructure,” said Schiff, D-Burbank.

“This will save lives, money and infrastructure when a big earthquake strikes, and we know one will strike.”

The system has been in beta testing for the past three years.

Seismologists at the California Institute of Technology say the technology works. The $5 million will help get them closer to full implementation.

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“We need to complete the system and build it out and make it fast, reliable and bulletproof before it goes public,” said Doug Given of the United States Geological Survey.

The system will eventually send out alerts through every available means, including television, radio, online and cellphones, giving anywhere from a couple of seconds to a minute of warning depending on how close you are to the epicenter.

“While a few seconds or a minute may not sound like a lot, those few seconds of warning may be absolutely critical to saving lives,” Schiff said.

It will take about $30 million to build the full early warning system, and $12 million more in annual operating costs just for California.

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Once the funding goal is met, the system should be public within two years.