New human trafficking training program for first responders
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office recently unveiled a training program aimed at providing local first responders with tools to recognize and assist human trafficking victims.
The training will be provided to around 3,000 firefighters from 40 San Diego County fire departments, as well as employees from emergency medical service agencies like American Medical Response and Mercy Medical Transportation.
The program includes a video highlighting warning signs first responders may see while in the field, which will allow them to identify traffickers and victims of sex and/or labor trafficking. Participating responders will also be able to access a reference sheet, via department-issued cell phones and iPads, listing trafficking red flags they may observe while out on emergency calls.
“This training greatly expands the number of people in the community who are in a position to spot the signs of human trafficking, creating a multiplier effect that can save lives,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said.
“Firefighters, paramedics and EMTs are already saving lives through the work that they do every day by giving lifesaving medical care and rescuing people from dangerous situations,” she said. “In the course of their duties, they also interact with victims of human trafficking, but until now may not have even realized it.”
The District Attorney’s Office said sex trafficking is an $810 million industry in San Diego County. In 2019, the county’s Human Trafficking Task Force investigated 194 leads, leading to assistance for 121 victims of commercial sex trafficking, according to the DA’s office.