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Tue, Jan 04, 2022

El Paso SAR Trains with Border Patrol

El Paso County Search and Rescue Unit Gets A Workout

The US Customs and Border Protection Air Marine Operations, El Paso Air Branch (AMO) completed their helicopter casualty evacuation training with firefighters and sheriff's deputies from the local El Paso county Search and Rescue unit of the West Valley Fire Department.

The practice engagement saw the teams come together to practice real-world patient extraction and packaging for immediate airlift, courtesy of the Border Patrol's bountiful equipment, personnel, and UH-60 Blackhawks. 

El Paso SAR was able to begin building the necessary procedures, muscle memory, and teamwork vital to operations alongside the CBP Air Branch. The teams learned the necessary rigging, positioning, signaling, and communication to bundle a casualty for aerial extrication and transport. When seconds count, streamlining the patient transfer process can save lives, especially in distant border locales. Local units capable of assessing and readying a casualty on the ground allows CBP air assets to quickly arrive on scene and begin the airlift, negating the need to first drop its own experienced personnel for packaging. Local fire departments or search and rescue groups don't often have the funding needed to maintain high-performance transport aircraft needed for the often rugged and mountainous regions under their purview.

“The purpose of training was to give El Paso County fire fighters and sheriff’s deputies on the El Paso SAR team practical experience in rigging up a simulated casualty in a litter along with a SAR team member to be airlifted from a casualty site to a safe landing zone. From the landing zone the victim can then be moved to emergency care.” said Fabian Cardiel, air enforcement agent and operations officer with AMO El Paso Air Branch. “Border Patrol AMO helicopters and crews often work with local SAR teams to conduct emergency casualty evacuations in West Texas and New Mexico in rugged terrain. It is important for us to train together so we can operate effectively when a life-saving rescue is needed.”

FMI: www.CBP.gov

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