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San Diego Border Patrol Sector demonstrates what migrant rescues look like

Agency said the number of rescues are on the rise
Posted at 6:14 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 21:14:31-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- The U.S. Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector gave a demonstration Thursday detailing what it takes to make a rescue when a migrant attempting to cross into the U.S. is in distress.

“Temperatures can soar or plummet, creating dangerous conditions for the underprepared or the misguided,” said Scott Garrett, the Acting Deputy Chief Patrol Agent.

He said most of the time, the migrants are abandoned by a smuggler that took them on the journey, leaving them stranded.

“On an almost daily basis, border patrol agents conducting routine operations are called upon to assist people requiring serious medical attention,” said Garrett.

Since October 1, 2020, San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents conducted 41 rescues and encountered 29 deaths along their 60-mile stretch of the southwest border, according to Garrett.

“Compared to Fiscal Year 2020, where agents conducted 45 rescues but only encountered 14 deaths,” he said.

This year, four rescue beacons were installed in mountainous areas with challenging terrain near San Ysidro Mountains; if a migrant is in distress, they can push a red button that alerts a rescue crew.

The agency said it’s working with Mexican authorities through campaigns and programs to highlight the dangers and discourage such crossings.

“We recognize that the most effective way to reduce migrant injuries and deaths is through the prevention and deterrence of illegal entries,” said Garrett. “In partnership with the Mexican Consulate, and other Mexican government agencies, San Diego Sector has been proactive in this approach, developing a series of programs and campaigns that explain the hazards and risks,” he explained.

Thursday, the agency demonstrated what its Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) Unit does during a rescue.

“We use this acronym called LAST,” said James Robertson, with the BORSTAR unit. “Locate, Access, Stabilize, Transport.”

First, the team uses K9s to locate a patient in distress; the dogs are specially trained to do this and rewarded once the patient is found.

Next, the team uses electric motorcycles or helicopters to gain access to the patient, and then they use medical gear to stabilize that person, keeping them alive. The final part of the rescue is to transport the patient, typically using a helicopter to extract them from the location and bring them to safety.

“Most of the time, we’ll have a hoist if we can, but with weather permitting, if we’re fogged in, we’ll stay the night with them, then we’ll later carry them out,” said Robertson.