Air and Marine Operations Crews Provide Life-Saving Care During Hurricane Harvey
HOUSTON – After an 80-foot ride through the air in a rescue basket to an awaiting UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, a mother and her young son are safe thanks to the rescue efforts of agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO).
The 4-year-old boy was a critical care patient at a hospital in Beaumont, Texas, when Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast. Due to concerns about ongoing facility operations at his hospital, the boy and his mother needed an emergency medical transport to another hospital.
An AMO UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew, with a pilot trained as a paramedic in the Air and Marine Emergency Medical Services (AMEMS) program onboard, responded to complete the transfer. During the flight in tropical storm conditions, the AMEMS agent monitored the boy’s vitals and medications while paying special attention to the medical equipment on board with him.
“AMO Emergency Medical Service providers are also law enforcement agents, and we are able to seamlessly integrate into a tense and rapidly evolving law enforcement environment. With our unique assets — boats, airplanes, and helicopters with rescue hoists — and skill sets — tactical, critical care, and austere providers — we are also able to assist emergency management agencies by providing medical care during periods of natural disasters,” said Supervisory Air Interdiction Agent Jeff Birks, the AMEMS Program Manager.
AMO’s AMEMS program was created in the late 2000s and is capable of providing emergency and contingency medical support with deployment capability to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and emergency management agencies. Given AMO’s unique capabilities and the environments in which we operate, air and marine personnel often arrive on scene first and must make split-second decisions.
AMO’s advanced capabilities and skill sets in the air and maritime environments fall within our core competencies: interdiction, investigation, domain awareness, contingency operations, and national tasking missions. AMO performs a wide range of incident-based missions in response to state and federal emergencies, such as disaster relief, continuity of operations, humanitarian operations, search and rescue, tactical team insertions and logistics, and National Special Security Events.