Written by Zak Hansen | Photos courtesy Texas Rescue Patrol
Twelve years ago, Jamil Moutran was looking for a change. He’d left his career with law enforcement, picked up and moved from California to El Paso, where he was looking into rental properties to begin a second chapter. While in the Sun City, however, he found a whole lot more. “After I left my job as a police officer, I ended up in El Paso looking for real estate properties,” said Jamil. “While I was there, I met my wife and ended up falling in love with El Paso, so we stayed here.” An outdoorsman new to the area, Jamil soon found himself in search of recreation, which he found in far east El Paso in the rolling dunes and iron oxide hills of Red Sands, a popular off-road riding area for the past four decades.
“I bought an off-road truck, and was new to the area, so I went out there to Red Sands,” said Jamil. “I saw so many people out there riding ATVs and thought it looked like fun, so I went driving around looking for a rental.
Turns out, there wasn’t a rental place here.” Realizing its untapped potential, Jamil said, he shifted his working capital from real estate and banking and refocused on ATV rental. In July 2012, backed by his wife and children, Jamil opened Rent-A-UTV Off-Road Adventures. The business took off and the Moutrons stayed busy, supplying eager thrill seekers the escape they were looking for. While business was booming, Jamil started to see the danger inherent in any off-road sport take its toll. It soon became personal.
“I was noticing a lot of accidents happening [at Red Sands],” said Jamil, “and it was common to even hear about fatalities. It seemed like almost every weekend I’d see an ambulance or fire truck at the entrance, waiting on people to bring patients to them.” Things really hit home, though, in 2016.
“I got a call from the sheriff’s department, asking if they could borrow some of our ATVs to respond to an emergency out there,” said Jamil. “They took them out there and were gone an hour or so when they finally called back asking to help them look; they’re not as familiar with the area.” So, Jamil hopped in his Jeep and sped out into the dunes. “I remember driving up to them and seeing this man . . . he had this distraught look on his face,” said Jamil. “He had been out there more than an hour, alone in the desert heat, doing chest compressions on his wife.”
Tragically, the wife was dead, and as sometimes-cruel fate would have it, they were lost just minutes from the entrance, from safety — from life or death. In that instant, vowing never to see another life lost, Jamil’s past as a first responder met his present, founding Texas Recreational Safety and Land Management (TRSLM), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves the community through several programs, ATV-centered and otherwise. A significant portion of each ATV/UTV rental goes to TRSLM, directly funding
life-saving initiatives. TRSLM is licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety as a regional ATV safety training facility, and offers free ATV operator education and licensing to the community and other professional services. These free courses meet state requirements for ATV operations on
Texas Public Lands. The nonprofit does much more than classes, though; TRSLM provides and places trash receptacles to keep the desert clean,
organizes community cleanup events, provides community outreach — and operates the Texas Rescue Patrol (TRP). The Texas Rescue Patrol — a Texas statelicensed emergency medical services first responder organization — is staffed by more than 60 dedicated first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and lawenforcement officers, who volunteer their time and expertise to respond to emergencies in the rural borderlands surrounding El Paso. The patrol assists several other regional agencies by acting as a force multiplier, serving the communities within the more
than 4,500 square miles of territory under its purview; in 2019 alone, the agency responded to more than 550 calls for service. The organization also partners with the ATV Safety Institute — a California-based organization that promotes the safe and responsible use of ATVs, to reduce the
accidents, injuries, and even deaths that can occur as a result of improper operation — for a free-of-charge ATV safety course to most ATV owners. At the completion of the course, riders receive their Texas Department of Public Safety ATV Safety Certificate, in compliance with state law.
In addition to rider education, the Texas Rescue Patrol assists new ATV/UTV owners with registering vehicles into the Texas OffHighway Vehicle Program, which is required to operate an off-highway vehicle on lands that
receive funding from Texas Parks and Wildlife. TRP also works alongside like-minded nonprofits and organizations to promote public health, general safety education, community support, and an awareness of and respect
toward environmental issues. Volunteers from the TRP attend community events, organize presentations, and involve themselves in charitable causes year-round — aside from the giving back they do in their personal lives. In the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey — which for days lashed southeastern Texas as one of the deadliest and costliest tropical storms on record — Texas Rescue Patrol volunteers were quick to lend a hand. They shipped out immediately to pitch in in Beaumont, Texas, and the surrounding communities. Volunteers — atop their trusty off-road vehicles, of course — delivered food, water, toiletries, and medical supplies; elsewhere, medics set up first-aid stations and aided local authorities in treating the sick and injured. This on-call readiness is required of any emergency-response agency and, as such, Texas Rescue Patrol volunteers train yearround, leaving them prepared to jump when disaster strikes.
While the Texas Rescue Patrol is ready to go for any disaster relief scenario, much of the good it does is more subtle. Unlawful dumping is a huge problem in the wild, rangy deserts of the Borderlands; as such, the Texas Rescue Patrol stands with public and private entities to protect the environment. This includes distributing free trash bags, placing waste receptacles in critical high-traffic areas, erecting signage, and providing highvisibility patrols; the presence of these patrols provides a deterrent against unlawful dumping and garden-variety littering. The organization
works hand-inhand with local authorities to report suspected vehicles
and individuals who may be unlawfully dumping. Don’t, as they say, mess with Texas.
In 2018, TRP created a Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT. CERT volunteers assist licensed patrol personnel in a variety of functions — traffic control, search-and-rescue, scene safety and securing, disaster relief
operations, and other important roles. CERT team members participate in monthly training meetings and receive certification from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other local organizations. Like many other public safety agencies, the Texas Rescue Patrol is licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a certified EMS First responder Organization. The patrol is made up of state-licensed emergency medical technicians, emergency care assistants, paramedics, peace officers, and more. This corps of volunteer personnel responds to emergency calls in fully marked emergency vehicles; this increases and improves the capabilities of other responding agencies, which rely on the Texas Rescue Patrol and its expertise, transportation, personnel, and