Suh Hughart-Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking in America

Suh Hughart, San Marcos, Hayes County EMS Instructor, Paramedic,

This blog series offers a sneak peek into the speakers and sessions at our upcoming annual conference Education by the Sea, May 10-12, 2023, in Port Aransas, Texas.

This week we are profiling Suh Hughart, who is on the agenda to speak Thursday, May 11, at 10 a.m.

Although Suh Hughart realizes it’s a cliché answer to say she joined EMS to help people, that’s exactly why she did! Hughart is a field paramedic and EMS educator for San Marcos Hays County EMS. She also works as an EMS instructor for Kyle Fire Department in Kyle, Texas, and is part-time faculty at the Centre for Emergency Health Sciences.

“It’s really a privilege,” Hughart said. “We are called to help on what most people consider to be the worst day of their lives.”

The “Why” Behind Her Topic

Although human trafficking awareness has come a long way through the years, Hughart believes that in terms of EMS, it is far behind. Healthcare providers in general have interacted with a significant number of victims. Hughart chose her topic, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking in America,” because she believes EMS has an opportunity to try to make a difference. The challenge is being able to recognize the problem.

“Education and awareness are two of the biggest tools that can be used to help combat human trafficking,” Hughart said.

Takeaways for the Audience

Hughart wants to help attendees understand that human trafficking is happening right in front of their eyes. They just don’t know what to look for. She hopes the audience can take away knowledge to use in their EMS systems so they can identify and respond to human trafficking when they see it.

“I want providers to know what they should do if and when a potential victim is identified,” Hughart said. “It’s not something that you want providers to have to figure out in the moment.”

Advice to Those Starting Out in EMS

Hughart’s biggest piece of advice to those entering EMS is to always remember that it is a privilege to do what they do. And if people start to struggle mentally, she emphasizes that they should not be afraid to ask for help.

She also shares other pieces of advice:

Take advantage of training: Train often and stay proficient with skills and knowledge. Practice skills the way they need to be performed in real life.

Stay humble: Learning never stops and everyone can always learn more.

“When you learn something new, whether it’s new information or a new great technique, share the knowledge with your peers,” Hughart said. “Don’t keep it to yourself.”

Outlook for the industry

Hughart admits the industry has a number of difficult struggles to overcome in the next few years, including staffing and morale issues. But beyond that, she sees great things going on in the industry: community medicine, advancements in both technology and medicine, potentially being recognized by the federal government as medical providers rather than transport providers, and focusing on provider mental health and resiliency.

“These are just a few of the things that are going to help drive our industry in a positive manner,” Hughart said.

Don’t miss Suh Hughart’s session on human trafficking Thursday, May 11, at 10 a.m.

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