WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a press conference Tuesday, four members of Congress said they have formed a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus.

The four senators and representatives said the E9-1-1 Caucus will provide a consensus-building forum to elevate issues surrounding 9-1-1 services and implement an agenda that will help strengthen the country's ability to better respond and communicate in times of local and national emergencies.

U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., will all serve as co chairs of the E9-1-1 Caucus.

The Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus was formed as a joint initiative to educate lawmakers, constituents and communities about the importance of citizen activated emergency response systems.

"Implementation of a seamless and effective wireless emergency communications network is imperative for getting our country where it needs to be," said Sen. Burns. "Both big cities and small communities must be on the same playing field, and we must make sure first responders in all communities have the ability to communicate in real time, and get where they need to be during an emergency."

The lawmakers said the goals of the caucus include:

- Ubiquitous deployment of enhanced 9-1-1 services and systems;

- Advancing 9-1-1 as the emergency number for use by the public;

- Promoting the education of members of Congress and their staffs about 9-1-1;

- Working with 9-1-1 leaders in congressional districts and states;

- Promoting citizen-activated emergency response systems;

- Ensuring 9-1-1 systems, networks and operators are properly funded; and

- Elevating emergency communications issues within all branches of government at the federal, state and local levels.

Because public-private partnerships are necessary to solve problems surrounding 9-1-1 issues, the caucus will create an advisory committee that includes a diverse group of associations, public interest and nonprofit organizations and industry representatives.

The E9-1-1 Caucus will support public policy forums; Congressional tours of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs); technology demonstrations, roundtable discussions; briefings and tutorials; media events and education programs.

A hearing on 9-1-1 issues has been scheduled for March 5.

Sen. Clinton said she is concerned about the deployment of Phase II wireless technology, which would help emergency responders locate people who dial 911 from their cell phones.

"Millions of Americans and New Yorkers purchase cell phones for this reason alone," Clinton said. "While our communications technology changes almost overnight, our state and local response centers are still operating in the 20th century. Many of our Public Safety Answering Points still lack the resources, equipment and technology to respond to 9-1-1 calls made by a cell phone."

Office of Sen. Conrad Burns