EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Border agents in Arizona are being equipped with heat-mitigation supplies to render aid to migrants as temperatures continue to rise in the desert.
Some 500 agents in the Three Points and Casa Grande stations in the Border Patrol Tucson Sector are getting the heat stress kits, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. The kits, known among agents as “go bags,” include cold compresses, hydration fluid, cooling towels and disposable light blankets.
“These kits could mean the difference between life and death,” Border Patrol Tucson Sector Chief John Modlin said. “The Arizona terrain is extreme, the summer heat is severe, and the miles of desert that migrants must hike after crossing the border are unforgiving.”
Forty-eight migrants have died this fiscal year in the sector, which encompasses most of Eastern Arizona. However, the bulk of the 200 or so yearly fatalities occur in summer and involve migrants who fall prey to heat stroke or dehydration, many after being abandoned by smugglers who brought them over from Mexico, officials said.
“As the summer heat approaches, human smugglers will continue to exploit vulnerable populations and recklessly endanger the lives of migrants for financial gain,” Modling said. “The message is still clear: If you are thinking of entering the United States illegally, don’t do it.”
In addition to the kits, CBP plans to put in place medical distress training so that border agents learn to quickly recognize signs of medical distress. The initiative also includes leveraging technology with communications for swift field response. This trauma awareness course will be mandatory for all field agents, officers at ports of entry (OFO) and air and marine operations, the agency said.