MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — In July, Border Patrol EMT agents rescued 591 people that were in distress, according to Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan.
Historically, August is the month with the most rescues for Border Patrol agents, however this year, agents are facing multiple challenges at once.
“Lately during this summer season, we encounter a lot of dehydration issues, a lot of heat incidents. Sometimes these people are not carrying enough water for their journey or they run out of water,” said Agent Rene Reyes, EMT, U.S. Border Patrol, McAllen Station.
Many times, out on the border, minutes are the difference between life and death.
“By the time we find them they’re already in a state where they are in a panic situation already. They don’t know where they’re at or what’s going on,” said Reyes, “When we see them often they’re experiencing cramps, nausea, vomiting, severe headaches. Also, once you go past that, beyond that you are going to start getting into loss of sweating. They stop sweating, their body can no longer cool itself any more people will go unconscious and eventually pass away.”
However, the triple digit heat is not the only current issue EMT agents are seeing on the Texas Mexico border.
“We’ve encountered subjects out in the field and we later find out that they tested positive for COVID-19. So, our agents are also wearing masks, they are taking proper precautions to prevent contamination,” said Reyes.
Every agent is provided personal protective equipment as well as anyone who is apprehended.
If the person in distress needs serious medical attention, the agent transports them to a medical facility.
It is not only people crossing over that EMT’s are rescuing.
“Sometimes our agents when they’re tracking people, tracking groups, and working traffic in the brush they will also submit to the heat. We take care of them, we cool them off. We do medical assessments on them and we try to keep them hydrated. We also take care of our dogs, of our K-9 partners,” said Reyes.
Regardless of the situation, out on the border the mission stays the same.
“We’re still out here, doing our duty doing our job protecting the United States of America despite this pandemic, and we are doing our best to safeguard the community,” said Reyes.
Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said at least 4,000 people were rescued by Border Patrol EMTS since the start of Fiscal Year 2020.