Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border

Ieva Jusionyte explores the spirit of first response in an area where dangers don't care about boundaries.
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Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border.

Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border.

Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border
Ieva Jusionyte
University of California Press

While Ieva Jusionyte was training to become an anthropologist, she was also becoming a volunteer EMT and firefighter. In Thresholds, her two lives intertwine, as she embeds with both Mexican and United States fire departments in communities close to the border. From a legal perspective, these are separate organizations at work in different sovereign nations. But the spirit and ethics of first response mean that, in practice, responders on both sides have long traditions of collaboration, with specialists from each side frequently crossing into the other, since many dangers, like wildfire, don't care about boundaries.

Evocative episodes abound: Mexican firefighters rush across the border to relieve their U.S. colleagues fighting a vicious blaze; Arizonan paramedics reach through grates in a sharp-edged border fence to retrieve the severed fingers of men who climbed across the barrier to find work.

A version of this story originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Pacific Standard.

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