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Tucson Border Patrol agents roll out new heat safety kits to help migrants attempting to cross border

KOLD News 4-5 p.m. recurring
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 6:28 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The extreme heat can be deadly for those out in it and that includes migrants crossing the desert. Now, hundreds of U.S Customs and Border Protection agents in the Tucson sector can help.

“The desert is unforgiving. The mountains are unforgiving. The human smuggling organizations are unforgiving.” said Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin, with strong words for those looking to make the dangerous trek across the desert.

But, despite the warnings, he knows people will attempt the journey anyway.

“The temperature is over 100 degrees, if you’re without water or shelter. You’re a statistic waiting to happen,” Modlin said.

Agents located at the Three Points and Casa Grande stations will be provided these heat stress kits. It will allow them to provide aide those in need until more advanced help arrives, which can sometimes take more than an hour.

The kits contain cold packs, cooling towels, electrolytes, and emergency blankets for shade. As of Thursday, the go-bags will be distributed to 500 agents across Southern Arizona. From there, how often and what tools are being used from these bags will be closely monitored to see if it should be expanded to other stations.

Dr. Greg Hess, Prima County Chief Medical Examiner, said his office sees a lot of the migrants who never finish their journey.

“The biggest hurdle that we have is trying to determine who they are. So, it’s really identity is the biggest problem,” Hess said.

He added oftentimes the cause of death goes undetermined.

“For migrants that come in in good condition and have not been in the environment very long prior to being recovered the number one cause of death is environmental,” he said.

Hess said this means dehydration. But, also could be hyperthermia or hypothermia, depending on the weather along some parts of the border.

Agents hope to deter anyone from making the dangerous journey and hope to roll out these stress kits to more stations by next year.

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