There seems to be a lot of unfavorable reports and media coverage about U.S. Border Patrol agents and their treatment of immigrants. However, a recent incident shows a different side of the story. In the early morning hours on April 19th, agents received a distress call that led to the rescue of two immigrants who had just recently crossed the border into the U.S. and were now in Santa Cruz County.
The Nogales Border Patrol Station was contacted by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office after getting a 911 call. The call described two immigrants who were lost in the desert, southeast of Tucson. The husband and wife duo had been lost for some time and the woman was beginning to experience chest pains.
A helicopter with a BORSTAR agent was dispatched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). BORSTAR is short for Border Patrol, Search, Trauma, and Rescue. It is considered to be a “specialized unit of the United States Border Patrol trained in emergency search and rescue and primarily assists injured or stranded [undocumented] immigrants at remote desert locations.”
It took less than 30 minutes for the helicopter crew to locate the man and woman. They were found on Squaw Peak at an elevation of more than 6,000 feet. The terrain on Squaw Peak is steep. Thus, the helicopter was not able to land and the closest ground agents were still three hours away.
At this point, off-duty personnel had been called in and a Blackhawk helicopter eventually joined the effort. The rescuers were also dealing with difficult weather conditions and the mission was deemed to be high risk. High winds and isolated thunderstorms made the mission dangerous and there was also a temporary flight restriction in place that morning “due to a wildland fire one mile from the rescue scene.” The crew eventually began a hoist-rescue operation in order to save the couple.
Eventually, the helicopter crew was able to save the woman by hoisting her into the helicopter and transferring her to an ambulance on the ground. She was taken to the hospital and treated for advanced cardiac care. The male was transported to Border Patrol for processing.
Mitch Pribble, director of Tucson Air Branch, said that the flight crew was made up of two pilots, a host operator, a safety officer, and an OAM emergency medical technician who was brought down to the couple and administered field medical treatment. "
The dedication and professionalism demonstrated by the crew while conducting this life-saving rescue under very difficult circumstances reflect greatly, not only on themselves, but also the Office of Air and Marine and U.S. Customs and Border Protection," Pribble said.
It is difficult for many people to truly understand the dangers and risks that many immigrants are willing to take in order to cross the border in the United States and potentially have a better life for themselves and their families. The freedom and opportunities that U.S. citizens enjoy is something that many take for granted.