Heat illness poses major risk for Border Patrol agents
Reported by: Rebecca Thomas
Email: rebecca.thomas@abc15.com
Last Update: 11:06 am

AJO, AZ -- Border Patrol agents with the Tucson Sector cover 90,535 square miles of land and most of it is desert.

During the brutal summer months, agents wage a delicate fight between doing their jobs effectively and safely.

While agents often come to the aid of illegal border crossers, stranded in the heat, occasionally agents find themselves in need of rescue.

According to the Tucson Sector, Tuesday afternoon, an agent with the Ajo station became all too familiar with heat illness.

He, along with several other agents, had hiked into a remote desert area south of Gunsight Hills -- where they found 420 pounds of marijuana hidden under loose rock and brush.

After hiking four miles round-trip, in 110-degree heat, one of the agents started feeling sick.

Despite drinking plenty of water, he was extremely dehydrated and his body began to seize.

BORSTAR agents, who are specially-trained to handle heat and extreme terrain rescues, were called in to help.

Ajo EMTs eventually took him to a hospital, where he spent a night recovering.

It was a tragedy averted -- but, a reminder of the many dangers agents face in the field.

"The men and women of the Tucson Border Patrol continue to work in the treacherous terrains and unforgiving conditions of the Sonoran Desert, as guardians of our nation's borders," said agent Mike Scioli. It's a job that must be done to protect the U.S. against acts of terrorism and illegal entry of humans and drugs."

Since October of 2008, the Tucson Sector says its agents have rescued 460 undocumented immigrants from the southern Arizona desert, along with a handful of fellow Border Patrol agents.

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