SAN BENITO — Students at Veterans Memorial Academy were amazed by what they were watching.
A motorist was being pulled over by a Border Patrol agent and taken into custody with the help of a Dutch shepherd K-9 who was quick enough to halt the driver from fleeing the scene.
But it wasn’t an actual apprehension.
It was an opportunity for students to explore the many duties involved in a career as a Border Patrol agent.
Border Patrol agents gave a presentation and demonstration yesterday morning to show hundreds of health science and criminal justice students how medical and tactical fields can work together to accomplish duties.
“Students sometimes think that all they’re going to do is get their medical license here with us and have to work in a hospital, nursing home or ride in an ambulance, but that’s not the case,” said San Benito CISD nursing assistant instructor Aaron Cantu. “There are many different options out there and my goal with this presentation is to show them a very big option.”
Each and every day on the job, Border Patrol agents respond to all types of threats and emergencies in remote areas where there is limited access to emergency medical services.
Deputy Border Patrol Agent John Lopez says agents are trained as basic EMTs all the way up to paramedics to provide aid to the individuals they encounter, other law enforcement nearby and to other agents.
In addition to conducting a mock scenario involving the use of a Border Patrol K-9, half a dozen different Border Patrol motor vehicles sat in the parking lot on display for the students to see.
EMT student Mario Zuniga said watching the presentation and demonstration made him interested in working with the Border Patrol.
“It seems like more of a free-base job rather than being stuck in a hospital,” Zuniga explained. “The things I saw were very interesting and I think the career builds character.”
“As an agency operating in this area, we’re part of the community and we’re always wanting to give back,” Lopez said. “Students are the future not only for our community, but for our country.”
From sitting and waiting to reacting at a moment’s notice, Lopez says becoming a Border Patrol agent takes dedication, physical fitness, commitment and most importantly, the willingness to help others.
Border Patrol Agent Jessica Ramirez says only the best of the best are chosen.
Due to its rigorous training, currently only one in 300 applicants actually make it into the Border Patrol academy.
New hires are required to complete 117 days of “intensive instruction” at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in New Mexico, which includes various requirements such as being proficient in reading, writing and speaking Spanish upon graduation, conduct emergency vehicle operations, physical training and weapon marksmanship and completing multiple areas of coursework.
“It gives you strength,” Ramirez said with a grateful smile. “It brings out the best in you that you didn’t even know that you could do.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Currently only one in 300 applicants actually make it into the Border Patrol academy.
• New hires are required to complete 117 days of “intensive instruction” at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico
• Be under age 40 unless you are a qualified Veterans’ Preference-eligible candidate or have previous federal law enforcement experience.
• Be a U.S. citizen and a resident for the past three years.
• Have a valid state driver’s license.
• Pass a thorough background investigation, polygraph examination, medical examination, pre-employment fitness tests and drug test.
For more information to apply, visit www.cbp.gov/careers.