Like motorists, pedestrians crossing the border at all four El Paso international bridges are experiencing longer crossing times. For example, 550,000 people crossed the border by foot just in the first quarter of 2014.
by Sushant Sharma and David Galicia
When a major event attracts tens of thousands of visitors to a community, the transportation network is sometimes negatively impacted near that event. The ripple effect can often be felt across the entire transportation system. We and other researchers with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Center for International Intelligent Transportation Research (CIITR) had a unique opportunity to study one of the biggest and historical events in the Paso Del Norte Region — the Pope’s visit to Ciudad Juarez area in April.
Led by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), a team of public agencies is conducting research to speed up cross-border transportation for heart attack and stroke victims. Other agency members include members of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) Department of Neurology, El Paso Fire Department personnel, and Mexican ambulance operators.
Delays that occur at the border can have life and death implications since mortality rates increase sharply depending on how much time passes from incident to treatment. Quickly getting patients the care they need is sometimes challenging, however, with tightened security measures at the border.
Evaluating Ambulance Cross Border Operations and Its Impact on Public Health in Border Regions is a project funded by TTI’s Center for International Intelligent Transportation Research (CIITR) and TTHSC El Paso. The ultimate goal of the project is to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), international bridge operators, and other border agencies to establish an operational protocol to expedite ambulance cross-border operations in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez binational region.
“We are in the early stages of conducting meetings with all the stakeholders. We’re looking at current operational protocols and determining where the process can be streamlined to get emergency patients to El Paso hospitals quicker, so treatment can begin earlier,” says David Salgado, TTI associate transportation researcher for CIITR and principal investigator on the project.
Currently, when a patient suffering a stroke or heart attack is transported from Juarez to El Paso, Mexican ambulances carry them to the border, where they must have the proper paperwork to be allowed to cross. Once cleared by CBP, the patient is transferred to an El Paso Fire Department (EPFD) ambulance that takes them to a U.S. hospital. In cases where the proper paperwork is missing, a border agent must ride with the patient to the hospital until the individual’s status is confirmed.
“Stroke is the number one cause of disability in the United States,” says Gustavo Rodriguez, M.D., TTUHSC El Paso neurologist. “It is imperative that stroke patients be treated quickly with a specialized clot-busting drug. Otherwise, the patient can suffer permanent damage.” Dr. Rodriguez says the medical community of El Paso is aware that delays sometimes occur at the border.
“Part of the delay occurs because, currently, CBP is not notified that an ambulance is en route to the border with a patient,” Salgado says. “Perhaps a pre-notification process can be established in which not only is CBP notified, but so is the EPFD. Consequently, Mexican ambulances, CBP, and the EPFD are fully coordinated and aware of the situation in real time.”
Researchers are currently studying how many patients are being transported and the magnitude of the delay problem. To that end, other stakeholder meetings are being planned, as well as a workshop to outline recommendations.
“If there is a weak link in this process, we need to find it,” says Lt. Oscar Salazar of the El Paso Fire Department. “If the border is part of the problem, we need to fix it. We want to make this as seamless as possible.”
by Dan Middleton
Finally, after years of searching and testing, the Center for International Intelligent Transportation Research (CIITR) may have found a device that reliably counts the thousands of passenger and commercial vehicles crossing the border between Mexico and Texas each day. Full-scale testing on the product is underway now at the Zaragoza Bridge border crossing in El Paso, and we should know soon if it’s what we’ve been looking for.
by David Salgado Manzano and Jeff Shelton
If you spend much time along the border, especially during peak crossing times, you can find yourself waiting for hours to get through a checkpoint. And while improved trade between the U.S. and Mexico is a good thing, one down side is that the increased traffic is adding to the problem.
by Arturo Bujanda and Bob Trotter
Border wait times (BWTs) have gotten longer in the past decade or so. Between increased trade (a good thing) resulting from expanding agreements between the United States and Mexico and enhanced security following 9/11 (a necessary thing), it’s understandable. But time is money when you’re idling at the border, and reducing wait times without compromising security isn’t easy with today’s federal budget constraints.
By 2030, the Office of the State Demographer predicts Texas will support a population of 33.9 million. That’s up from 25.2 million in 2010—about a 35 percent increase. That means that, for every three people we have in the state today, we’ll have four tomorrow. And they’ll all be trying to use the same transportation system.
by Lupe Ramos
The Center for International Intelligent Transportation Research (CIITR) does more than simply conduct research in the El Paso region. We also look for ways, through our research and outreach, to improve the lives of everyone transportation touches, especially in our own home town.
by Geza Pesti
How goods are getting to and from Mexican manufacturers to American markets—and vice versa—is important to know. Are they traveling by truck or rail? Are they experiencing shipping delays (often passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices)? Are they rising or falling in frequency, value, and volume?
Researchers at TTI’s Center for International Intelligent Transportation Research are helping El Paso’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) gather baseline data via a regional survey about how residents currently travel around the region. Ultimately, the information will help the MPO decide how to shape its forthcoming multimodal plan by taking into account the public’s preferences and attitudes about various travel modes, like walking and biking. | Read the MPO’s Blog on the Project