In an average year, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processes more than one million people at the Andrade Port of Entry, the eastmost border crossing of the U.S.-Mexico border in California.
In late February, a routine, crowded day at the port could have ended in tragedy if not for Chapter 123 (CBP Calexico) President Vince Salgado's lifesaving work.
In one of the primary travel lanes, a traveler had stopped breathing and was in cardiac arrest. It was a race against the clock, but Salgado, a CBP Officer and certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), was in the right place at the right time.
“I usually work out of the Calexico [Calif.] port, but travel often for my chapter work with members,” said Salgado. “On this day, truly as I was walking in, a supervisor was rushing out. He knew that I’m EMT and called out to me. We took off.”
The woman, who was exhibiting signs of a drug overdose, was in the care of a Mexican ambulance crew that did not have Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan. Fortunately, the Andrade Port did carry the nasal spray and Salgado rushed to help the victim. Within minutes, the woman regained consciousness and began breathing on her own.
This was Salgado’s first time administering Narcan, and it is likely to be an experience he will always remember.
According to Salgado, this incident underscores the multifaceted nature of a CBP Officer’s role. Their training and skills go beyond border security and often include life saving techniques.
“Several officers wear the medical hat, and it’s a very useful resource for our employees and those we’re serving crossing the border,” said Salgado. “I’m glad this particular incident had a good outcome, especially when a life is saved.”
“Like most heroes, Officer Salgado will tell you that he was ‘just doing his job,’” said National President Tony Reardon. “But it’s important to recognize the CBP Officers who go above as they protect lives and safeguard our great nation.”