YUMA, AZ - There’s a different type of battle taking place at the border with a mission to save lives.
“When the temperature reaches anywhere above a hundred [degrees] we have quite a few people still in the desert and they’re not prepared," said Cmdr. John Adkisson of the U.S. Border Patrol, Yuma Sector, BORSTAR team.
Adkisson's specialized unit focuses on search and rescue operations involving agents and immigrants. Even though fewer people have been attempting to cross the border for the past several years, he says they’re still called out to rescues weekly during summer and average around 70 a year.
"We're here to enforce the law, number one, but at the same time, we're humanitarians,” he said.
ABC15 rode along with agents as they simulated a rescue. Using ATVs, helicopters and K9s they were able to track down a supposed 28-year-old unconscious man suffering from heat illness -- a common real-life scenario.
In the last two weeks, the Yuma BORSTAR team has been called to rescue a border agent who fell off a mountain -- and a group of immigrants attempting to cross the desert and in need of medical attention. In the latter case, a 17-year-old died after being taken to the hospital.