Honolulu paramedics undergo sex trafficking training

Published On: Aug 28 2012 06:52:35 PM HST   Updated On: Aug 28 2012 07:11:15 PM HST

Oahu paramedics are learning new tactics to combat Hawaii's growing sex trafficking problem.

There is new training that educates paramedics on what to look for when identifying suspected sex trafficking victims on the job.

"I think most of us were really shocked and really appalled," said Emergency Medical Services District Chief Kelly Yamamoto.

Like many of her colleagues, Yamamoto was unaware how prevalent sex trafficking is in Hawaii.  She's among dozens of first responders getting special training on how to identify a patient who's been forced into the sex trade.

"Raped and beaten asleep; raped and beaten awake; it was just violence and chaos all day, everyday," said Deedee, a sex trafficking victim.

Deedee was just 16 when she was kidnapped, beaten and forced into sexual slavery.  Many of those who fall victim to sex trafficking are minors.

Anti-trafficking advocate Kathryn Xian has been training the paramedics, educating them on what she calls modern day slavery.

"We're trying to get them aware of the issue;  get them aware of the warning signs if they suspect a victim of human trafficking," said Xian.

The training started two months ago and it already appears to have paid off.  Two nights ago, a paramedic called the sex trafficking hotline to report a woman found beaten and robbed in Downtown Honolulu was at great risk of becoming a sex trafficking victim.  She was treated and taken off the street.

"In the past, we haven't had the training to properly identify these types of situations and now to take it a step further and report it and find some help for these individuals," said Yamamoto.

Paramedics provide prompt medical care, but now, with knowledge of the sex trade and how to identify its victims, they can not only treat the injured but steer them toward a safer life.


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