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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

How EMS can save more victims of human trafficking

We need to receive training necessary to detect such situations and then do something about it

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: For the past several months, Honolulu has required all of its paramedics to attend a course to better recognize the telltale signs of human trafficking abuse.

As part of this country's medical safety net, EMS providers have a front-row seat for the triumphs and trials of the human condition.

Unfortunately, we are more privy to the sordid underside of society, where many human weaknesses are stashed out of the general public's view.

We might imagine it's easy to spot these problems, but it is more difficult than it looks. Human trafficking for forced labor or prostitution is as old as humanity itself, but it's rarely seen or talked about.

Frankly, most of the public would prefer not to hear about it, so uncomfortable the situation. But EMS doesn't have a choice.

So it makes sense that we receive the training necessary to detect such situations and then do something about it, such as notify law enforcement or transport to a safe location. That may be all that it takes to save someone's life.

Kudos to HEMS for preparing its personnel to manage these horrid situations.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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