First responders show closer look at how agencies respond to migrant crisis situations

One week after officials found 12 migrants inside a trailer on I-35. One week later, first responders are sharing how they react during these crisis situations.

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said the call to respond to migrant crises is not new for San Antonio but is becoming more common.

“This situation has found its way into our everyday lives,” Salazar said. “The levels at which that we’re seeing it are unprecedented.”

Just one week ago, officials found 12 migrants crammed inside a trailer on I-35 near the Fisher Road ramps. EMS crews confirmed that all 12 individuals were OK, but Salazar said when his deputies respond to any migrant call, they’re ready to see just about anything.

“We always look at it through a different lens now,” Salazar said. “First and foremost is the preservation of human life.”

Salazar said when deputies arrive at a scene involving migrants, they first look to confirm the physical condition of each individual. Then, they investigate.

“During the course of that interview, we try to find out where did you come from, what have you been through? Are you the victim of any crimes?” Salazar said.

During the medical evaluation, Dr. Bryan Everitt, an EMS physician at University Health, said crews look for heat exhaustion and heat-related illnesses.

“Every minute counts,” Everitt said. “If these patients are not found and cooled quickly, they will die.”

Everitt was one of the first EMS physicians on the scene of the Quintana Road tragedy just about a year ago. He said he pronounced more than 40 of those individuals dead on the scene. With the extreme heat in San Antonio, he said all medical crews look to start treatment as soon as possible under these circumstances.

“We’re going to immediately start treating those patients,” Everitt said. “We’re going to put them in the temp bag, and we’re going to transport them to the hospital if they have signs of heatstroke.”

Temp bags are a treatment that medical crews use to cool patients down. Everitt said it’s not a solution, but it is a lifesaver.

“We are very aggressive about putting these patients in these bags, both pre-hospital and in the hospital,” Everitt said.

Salazar said those 12 migrants last week did not need this level of treatment.

After the incident, all 12 migrants were taken to the sheriff’s department for evaluation and debriefing. He said that’s when a federal agency stepped in and took over the case.

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About the Authors:

Avery Everett is a news reporter and multimedia journalist at KSAT 12 News. Avery is a Philadelphia native. If she’s not at the station, she’s either on a hiking or biking trail. A lover of charcuterie boards and chocolate chip cookies, Avery’s also looking forward to eating her way through San Antonio, one taco shop at a time!

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.