Look Beneath the Surface: Human Trafficking in USA – Suh Hughart

Education by the Sea 2024 - Speaker Spotlight - Suh

Texas’ most engaging EMS conference is approaching swiftly! Education By The Sea arrives in Port Aransas on May 8-10, 2024, and registrations are open through mid-April. Dive into the details of the 2024 conference through our sneak peek series featuring speakers and sessions. 

Meet Suh Hughart, Paramedic and EMS Educator for San Marcos Hays County EMS. She will present the “Look Beneath the Surface: Human Trafficking in America” session on Friday, May 10, at 11 a.m.

Suh’s journey into the medical field was influenced by her family’s legacy of healthcare professionals. Raised by a nurse practitioner mother and a paramedic/firefighter-turned-nurse father, initially envisioned a career outside of healthcare. “I didn’t want anything to do with the medical field. Then, I took an EMT class in my mid-20s, and I fell in love with it,” she recalls. 

Hughart enrolled in EMT school in 2010 and began working in the field in 2011. She has gained experience in various sectors of EMS, including private, hospital-based, and 911 ambulance services. Alongside her EMT-P certification, Suh is the recipient of the Dr. Larry Miller Fellowship of the Centre for Emergency Health Sciences (FcEHS). Additionally, she is an EMS Instructor for the Kyle Fire Department. A member of the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Hughart has presented lectures on human trafficking at state and national EMS conferences.

“An important lesson I’ve learned in my career is that learning never stops. There’s always something to learn from everyone you meet, whether it’s a seasoned medic with over 30 years of experience or a recent graduate,” states Hughart.

Reasoning Behind the Topic 

Suh’s involvement in studying, teaching, and advocating for human trafficking victims began after attending a class at an EMS conference. “I remember thinking, ‘What a strange topic to have at an EMS conference.’ But when I heard the statistics on how many human trafficking victims we unknowingly encounter, I realized the importance of addressing this issue in EMS education,” she explains.

Research indicates that emergency services professionals, both pre-hospital and in-hospital, encountered 68.3% of human trafficking victims while they were being trafficked. “That’s a significant number of victims we may have treated without realizing it – victims we could’ve assisted,” says Hughart. “EMS is significantly behind the curve in the fight against human trafficking. It’s essential that healthcare professionals be aware of this possibility when interacting with patients,” she emphasizes.

Session Insights

The paramedic believes that EMS has a unique opportunity to make a difference. Her objective is to raise awareness among attendees that human trafficking is happening right in front of their eyes. “We will discuss the scope of human trafficking in the United States, its relevance to healthcare professionals, methods to identify potential victims, and available resources for assistance,” Suh explains.

Furthermore, she will address the changes in human trafficking dynamics since the pandemic. “We’ll also explore actions your system can take and protocols that can be implemented when providers encounter potential human trafficking victims,” she informs.

Industry Outlook

Hughart feels that the EMS industry is often overlooked. “There’s a nationwide effort to recognize EMS as healthcare rather than just transportation. I am hopeful that, eventually, it will happen,” she says. 

While acknowledging advancements such as community medicine and mobile integrated healthcare since she began her career in EMS, Suh remains cautious about the industry’s future. “The paramedics’ shortage is still concerning and has unfortunately become normalized. However, I’m encouraged by the increasing interest in entering the field and efforts to promote EMS as a career. Hopefully, we’ll see positive developments as time goes on,” Hughart concludes.

Don’t miss Paramedic Hughart’s “Look Beneath the Surface: Human Trafficking in America” session on Friday, May 10, at 11 a.m.

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