University of Arizona dean addresses biological threats
A main focus for Cairns' testimony was the lack of cooperation between the federal government and local and state institutions. Prior to serving at UA, Cairns worked as a principal investigator of the National Collaborative for Biopreparedness and as the director of the U.S. Critical Illness and Injury Trials Group.
“This lack of programmatic unity is most felt at the state and local level, which is the tip of the spear for the nation’s biodefense," Cairns said. "It will be the hospital systems and EMS agencies that will first detect abnormalities in illness patterns. I encourage Congress to ensure that any biodefense program take into account the capabilities and the responsibilities of local and state institutions, which must be weaved into the fabric of national preparedness.”
Rep. Martha McSally, chair of the subcommittee, stated that it was increasingly important for the U.S. to have strong preparedness and response measures to combat the humanitarian and economic costs of a biological attack or epidemic.
“A bio attack could cause illness or death in hundreds of thousands of people, overwhelm our public health capabilities and have an economic impact of over one trillion dollars per incident," McSally said.