TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) crews conducted a high-altitude rescue of an injured U.S. Citizen hiker who spent the night on the mountain.
On April 4th, at around 5:30 a.m., the Tucson Air Branch received a call for aid from the Pima County Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator. Members of Pima Country SAR team had responded to a call for an injured United States Citizen (USC) who had fallen the day before (April 3rd). The hiker complained of multiple injuries and was unable to traverse the terrain back down the mountain that evening. Pima County SAR team members found the hiker on the night of April 3rd and stayed with her overnight to minimize hypothermia.
Due to high winds and altitude of the rescue location, Tucson Air Branch deployed a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter aircrew. Upon arrival, aircrew members began rescue operations before 9:00 a.m. A rescue specialist (RS) devised a plan with Pima County SAR members for extraction of the hiker. Once the rescue specialist was lowered, the hiker was triaged prior to being hoisted into the helicopter using an air rescue vest. The injured hiker was evacuated to Banner University Medical Center in Tucson for further treatment.
“We train to work with our federal, state, and local partners on AMO’s capabilities,” said Director of Air Operations, Tucson Air Branch, Michael Montgomery. “The same tools used for border security are immediately directed to the person in need whether they are atop a mountain near Tucson or along the border.”
AMO agents often respond to search and rescue requests and are capable of dynamically shifting to accomplish humanitarian missions in challenging terrain and weather conditions because of specialized training and equipment. AMO crews conducted 447 rescues in Fiscal Year 2022. Fiscal Year 2023 to date, AMO crews have completed 83 rescues.
AMO safeguards our nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO serves as the nation’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement.
In Fiscal Year 2022, AMO enforcement actions resulted in almost 1,000 arrests and 135,000 apprehensions of undocumented individuals, as well as the seizure or disruption of nearly 251,000 pounds of cocaine, 1,500 pounds of fentanyl, 26,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,342 weapons, and $21.7 million in currency.