TUCSON, Ariz. — Agents from the Office of Air and Marine and U.S. Border Patrol conducted a joint rescue operation to retrieve a male victim from the bottom of a deep crevasse in the Baboquivari mountain range Tuesday.
OAM’s Tucson Air Branch received a request for assistance from Border Patrol agents after they discovered the man, later determined to be an undocumented immigrant, who had fallen from a cliff and sustained serious injuries. OAM agents, who are also certified emergency medical technicians, quickly responded with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter equipped with a hoist.
“When agents arrived on scene, they discovered the victim at the bottom of a deep ravine on very treacherous terrain,” said Air Enforcement Agent Rafael Madrigal, serving as a crewmember aboard the Black Hawk. “The victim needed to be brought up and treated quickly.”
Emergency responders consider mountain rescues high-risk given the altitude – 6,000 feet in this case – and rugged terrain.
An onboard hoist operator lowered an OAM EMT and a Border Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) paramedic onto the mountain. The duo then climbed down the ravine to reach the victim while the hoist operator lowered a litter near the victim. Agents then had to carry the man to the litter. Once secured, the hoist operator lifted the EMT, paramedic and patient up to the helicopter for transport to Ryan Airfield for advanced medical care.
The victim was stable but complained of injuries to his head and legs, and said he had lost consciousness at some point.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.