New efforts to help victims of sex trafficking


iEmpathize is holding the largest human trafficking training ever for first responders in Las Vegas.

“If they don’t have a voice, it’s our duty to speak up for them,” said Melanie Bangle.

Bangle has been a paramedic for 17 years.

Last year, 126 minors were saved by Metro’s Vice Unit. 28 were found on the Las Vegas Strip. 80 were prior runaways and 79 were local children.

“Human trafficking is a global issue. It’s in every city and country that we can imagine,” said Brad Riley, CEO of IEmpathize.  

IEmpathize is a national non-profit and human rights advocacy organization. Throughout the week, Riley will be holding training’s for first responders to learn how to identify and help victims of human trafficking.

iEmpathize’s “Empower Las Vegas” includes first-hand survivor stories and a tour of the Apathy Effect Exhibit.

“At Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, we’re sending everybody that’s on the floor through the training,” said Matthew Driscoll, paramedic firefighter from Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.

Hundreds of first responders are taking the training this week. 

“I’ve been through it multiple times and it’s powerful,” said Driscoll. 

The training begins with a tour through an exhibit that tells stories of resilient young survivors.

“After doing this training, I’ve realized that there has been about 4 women that I can remember in my career that showed all the signs of sex trafficking and abuse. The youngest one was 14 years old and I wish i’d seen the signs because I didn’t help her,” said Bangle. 

Then, the first responders will learn different ways to spot a victim of sex trafficking. 

“It’s a cross collaboration effort. It’s going to have to take many people getting involved,” said Riley. 

For the public, tours of the Apathy Effect Exhibit will be open on March 6 and March 8 from 5 pm – 8 pm.

“The survivors are telling us… I’ve been in your ambulance but you didn’t see me. I’ve been in the emergency room and they didn’t see me,” said Bangle.

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