Cheyenne Hospital Encouraging Awareness of Human Trafficking
A social media campaign, #WearBlueDay is being held in conjunction with the event. Tiffany Dickey of CRMC is a member of the Human Trafficking Task Force headed by the Wyoming Attorney General's Office.
January has also been designated as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
She says human trafficking can involve anything from prostitution to people being forced to work inhumanely long hours for little or even no money. She says it is a growing problem in Wyoming, which has several major interstates that tend to increase the problem.
Dickey says Denver human trafficking has an estimated value of $39.5 million per year, making the front range a trafficking ''hot spot.'' Since Cheyenne is on the north end of the Interstate 25-front range ''hot spot,'' it is especially affected.
Risk factors for human trafficking include recent migration, substance abuse, mental health issues and being young or underprivileged. But Dickey says many people wrongly assume that victims of human trafficking are foreigners or illegal immigrants, when in fact many Americans, including men, women, and children are victimized.
Dickey says that while few people are seen in the CRMC emergency room who immediately report themselves as victims of human trafficking, it isn't unusual for doctors or nurses there to discover people visiting the emergency room are in fact trafficking victims.
She says some of the red flags can include people who haven't received medical or dental care for many years and maybe severely underweight or malnourished. In the case of female trafficking victims, a red flag can be that they are in poor physical condition, but their hair and fingernails are in unusually good condition compared to their overall health.
Dickey says victims of trafficking or anyone who has information on trafficking crimes can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Pleas for help or information can also be texted to ''befree" (233733). People can also contact law enforcement directly at 1-888-347-2423. Information will then be passed along to local law enforcement agencies and/or the FBI.
But Dickey says the quickest way for victims to get help is generally by reporting to a local hospital emergency room.