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Emergency Medicine Human Trafficking Advocates Encourage Awareness as NFL Pro Bowl Expects to Draw Crowds

The 2018 NFL Pro Bowl will be returning to Orlando, Florida on January 28, expecting to bring fans from all over the country. With Greater Orlando ranking third in the United States for the number of reports to the national human-trafficking hotline, local health professionals and human trafficking advocates are calling upon the emergency medicine community and general public to be aware of signs indicating individuals are victims of human trafficking.

"With the influx of visitors to the Pro Bowl and the human trafficking predators likely to be attracted by them, EMS providers, Emergency Physicians and our citizens need to be extra vigilant in identifying possible victims and notifying the appropriate authorities when concerned," said Dr. Jay Falk, immediate past-president of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians. "Clues to foul play are delineated below and we should all be familiar with them."

As of June 2017 in Florida, more than 320 cases of human trafficking had been reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Hotline. The Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force was created in 2013 to combat modern day slavery and human trafficking in the greater Orlando area, while also providing resources to empower survivors.

We encourage emergency medicine professionals -- and the general public -- to be aware of red flags and indicators of possible human trafficking as indicated by the National Human Trafficking Hotline website, which include, but are not limited to:

  • the individual is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • high-security measures exist in the work and/or living locations
  • the individual is fearful, anxious, submissive, tense or nervous
  • avoids eye contact
  • lacks health care
  • appears malnourished
  • shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture
  • the individual not in control of his/her own money, identification documents or bank accounts
  • lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • the individual has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

This year the NFL has provided a platform with well-known athletes advocating for human trafficking, including 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Finalist Baltimore Ravens tight-end Benjamin Watson. Watson has partnered with International Justice Mission (IJM) to combat sex trafficking on a global scale, traveling in June 2017 to the Dominican Republic to help formulate policy to combat trafficking. Cleveland Brown's Head Coach Hue Jackson and his wife created last year the Hue Jackson Foundation to empower survivors of human trafficking.

If you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect that someone is a possible victim of human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. For more information and resources on human trafficking, visit

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