A bill that would require California EMTs and Paramedics to undergo training pertaining to human trafficking was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday.
Assembly Bill 2130, authored by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-Paso Robles), would require an EMT-I, EMT-II, and EMT-P, upon initial licensure, to complete at least 20 minutes of training on issues relating to human trafficking starting on July 1, 2024. The human trafficking awareness training would then be applied by those workers to identify victims, how to interact with them, and can generally help or assist them in situations when they are present.
Assemblyman Cunningham wrote the bill to help reduce human trafficking in California, as well as save lives. Specifically, as EMTs and paramedics are in a unique position to talk and interact with human trafficking victims, the training would allow them to be one of the first on the scene and could alert authorities ahead of time to the situation at hand.
“Human trafficking victims are rescued by ordinary people who recognize the signs of trafficking and are brave enough to act,” the Assemblyman said earlier this year. “As front-line emergency workers, EMTs and paramedics are uniquely situated to interact with trafficking victims. Training these workers to recognize the signs of trafficking will save lives.”
Cunningham has been a long-time proponent of anti-human trafficking laws. This includes passing 4 major anti-trafficking bills before Tuesday, including SB 970, a 2018 law that adds anti-human trafficking training to hospitality employee training sessions. More recently, Cunningham authored AB 1788, a bill to add civil penalties to hotel owners who know of and don’t report human trafficking instances.
While not all of his legislation has been signed into law since coming into office in 2016, AB 2130 was embraced by both parties in the Senate and Assembly. Last month, the bill even passed the Senate by a rare 40-0 vote, followed by a 75-0 vote in the Assembly. With no reason to veto, Governor Newsom signed the bill into law without comment on Tuesday. While a mostly quiet victory, anti-human trafficking groups and victims of human trafficking praised the signing of the bill on Tuesday and Wednesday, marking it as an important step forward in fighting human trafficking.
“Laws like this would have saved many lives,” explained Manuela Garcia, a victim of human trafficking to the Globe on Wednesday. “Many times there is a language barrier or we are there in silence out of fear and are trying to communicate anyway we can, like through our eyes or body language.”
“A paramedic coming to us in an accident and knowing what to look for would really help future victims not be hurt or sold or worse. Not many people think about what happens to us after someone doesn’t see a warning sign and doesn’t alert the police or someone, but it is not pretty. With a law like this, it can help stop this from happening to more people. That’s a good thing.”
Governor Newsom is expected to sign more bills into law throughout September.
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