Excerpts from week.com:

The Peoria Fire Department is joining the fight against human sex trafficking in Central Illinois through new training. The Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria reports 80% of sex trafficking survivors in the Land of Lincoln are from Central Illinois, not Chicago. 

“The goal of this training is to help our firefighters recognize the signs of someone who may be a victim of sex trafficking.” explained Peoria Fire Chief Tony Ardis. Between paramedics, EMTs, and firefighters, his people go into hundreds of houses each day. He hopes this new training will allow them to recognize those signs and ensure people feel safe and protected. 

Joyce DeRenzy, Associate Executive Director, for the Peoria CPA outlines alarming statistics. “Since January, we’ve seen about 30 and those numbers are really high, but when we think about the number who aren’t reported, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the indicators would be ‘does a person have freedom of movement?…Who’s in possession of their documents?” The signs are subtle, but training bridges the gap between them being ignored or mistaken.

Ardis highlighted how crucial it is that his department be trained to have multiple skill sets; that way they’re constantly meeting the needs of local families, at all levels. “Whether it’s recognizing signs of domestic violence or whether it’s sex trafficking, it is imperative that we’re trained in every aspect in the issues that we may face.”

The Center says the survivors they’re seeing here at home, range from the tender age of 12, all the way to age 62.

The Peoria Fire Dept’s training goes from September 23rd-26th at the Central Fire House. Center for Prevention of Abuse also hosts training session for community groups. For more information on how you can spot a potential victim of human trafficking, please visit their Facebook Page 

If you or someone you know may be at risk or vulnerable to human sex trafficking, please call 1-888-373-7888 for the National Human Trafficking Hotline.