Recognizing Human Trafficking in Disaster Situations

human trafficking victimAdam Midden is a financial crimes expert working to stop human trafficking. He comes on the show to talk about trafficking around disaster situations and what human trafficking victims might look like when encountered by first responders.

Here are some resources on Human Trafficking:

Downloadable Pocket Card on Human Trafficking

Responder1 article on Human Trafficking

Spot the Signs of Modern Slavery article

Adam answers some key questions including who are the first responders who might be in a position to recognize human trafficking victims?

Obvious are the police, firefighters, EMTs. But even more so today are emergency crews like power, water rapid response teams. In addition on the medical side of things physicians, primary care, ER, or common nowadays are ERs. Like many things that definition is changing in some instances (Ukraine), first responders are volunteers and charities who were on the front lines of the border before anyone else.

What are some of the signs first responders can use to recognize human trafficking?

Physical and non-physical signs. Physical – bruises, cuts, drug marks (substance abuse), signs of rape, tattoos (gangs, pimp signature, barcode, various P2P payment app usernames, etc). A lot of people in one house. Scared, confused, fidgety, unsure of where they are. Accompanied by someone else – a person may have their ID cards, phone, belongings, etc. Someone else may speak for them. Fear of being with you or fear of ‘authority’ … overall poor health inside and out. Sense of being watched, looking around, over shoulder.

When does human trafficking happen as it relates to emergencies/crisis/war/etc?

Occurs every second of every day of our lives. But during times of crisis it is the worst. Before emergency crews, volunteers, local/federal can move in to stabilize a situation, traffickers move in giving the appearance of safety and shelter. Hurricanes (displaced). Afghanistan (withdraw, void left). Ukraine (men stay behind, children had to flee alone). Mass shootings/catastrophe (posing as help, mental assistance)

Why are folks (especially young females) the most susceptible in these situations to HT?

World is very sexualized -music, movies, shows, even families. Results of something developed over time. But young females – seek love, attention, and happiness thus falling for a quick trap and landing in an unimaginable world of pain. 80-90% are female and below 15. As a young teen out to prove yourself and a sense of invincibility. Promised the world then to find a world they did not even know existed. Clubs, porn, private sex slaves, etc

What gives first responders the first (possibly only) chance to detect human trafficking?

Privacy, rare chance to get the victim alone for treatment. 99.9% of the time they will say nothing. Recognizing the signs, alerting someone, keeping the potential victim safe – instinct of the victim may be to flee from a first responder for fear of the controller. 88% or more of HT victims have to seek medical care at some point, only 3% of medical professions said they have had HT training for role


Join co-hosts Sam Bradley and Jamie Davis, along with disaster emergency management expert, Becky DePodwin, as they chat with Adam about human trafficking and how disaster situations set at risk individuals up for exploitation.

Paragon Brings “The Experience”

Paragon Medical Education Group specializes in bringing what they call “The Experience” to jurisdictions around the country. They bring together police, fire, EMS, and hospital teams to train together and learn what to expect from each diverse group in the response team so that each knows what to expect from the other and how to back the other groups up. Visit Paragon’s site at for more information on how this can be brought into your system.

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