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Sand Dunes Offer Fun, Relaxation; Border Patrol Urges ‘Be Safe’

Border PatrolImperial Sand Dunes, Calif. – Nearly 200,000 four-wheelers, sand-duners and off-roaders will flock to Southern California’s Imperial Sand Dunes this month. The U.S. Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) teams assigned to the area to assist have an important message: “Be Safe.”

The Thanksgiving holiday annually sees as many as 200,000 visitors bring their sand vehicles to the region for four days of fun in the dunes. Each year also sees dozens of them requiring medical assistance because their fun got out of hand.

The Border Patrol teams will be stationed throughout the dunes to ensure that medical assistance is quickly available whenever injuries occur. As many as 30 agents will be on duty over the weekend beginning daily at 7 a.m. and remaining until 2 a.m. between November 25 and 28. Each of the agents is a certified emergency medical technician. Four of the agents on duty are paramedics.

The BORSTAR teams will establish a command post near the Buttercup area and will patrol the area on all-terrain vehicles, sand rails and other vehicles capable of reaching injured persons almost anywhere in the dunes area.

While most of the BORSTAR agents assigned to the dunes work out of the Yuma Sector, eight are coming from other Border Patrol sectors around the country. The El Centro Sector, which incorporates the far western portion of the dunes, also will provide agents.

“We see everything from scrapes and bruises to broken bones,” said Richard Ramirez, the supervisory Border Patrol agent who runs the BORSTAR rescue teams. Three persons have died from injuries suffered at the dunes so far this season. Alcohol is suspected as a contributing cause in at least two of the deaths.

“We advise everyone to have all the fun they can at the dunes, but be prudent. Know your equipment, bring plenty of water and be safe,” Ramirez said.

Additional agents will be on patrol at the international border ensuring that visitors stay more than 100 feet from the border fence.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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