2019 EMS10 Winner Profile: Thomas P. Beers

Thomas P. Beers, MPA, EMT-P, NHDP, was first exposed to EMS as a college student when a friend asked him to accompany him during a visit to the campus EMS squad at the University of Dayton.
Thomas P. Beers, MPA, EMT-P, NHDP

Thomas P. Beers, MPA, EMT-P, NHDP, was first exposed to EMS as a college student when a friend asked him to accompany him during a visit to the campus EMS squad at the University of Dayton. He signed up for a ride along and decided that is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. After college, Beers joined the U.S. Army and served as a field artillery officer but continued worked in the emergency department on the weekend to keep his hand in emergency medicine.

After leaving the military, he earned his paramedic license and worked for a short time at the Dayton Fire Department as a firefighter/paramedic. He currently serves as a firefighter/paramedic and intelligence liaison officer at Cleveland Heights Fire and EMS, and as the EMS manager for the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

Beers, inspired by a coworker and friend, Michele Sorrell, built an education program on human trafficking for fire and EMS providers after the most recent Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

He was initially skeptical firefighters or EMS providers would be able to offer intervention for human trafficking victims, but after some research he recognized the unique role fire departments and EMS providers could play in identifying and helping individuals caught in human trafficking. He found there was some generic education on human trafficking available, but nothing by and for fire and EMS on a large scale.

“EMS is the largest, untapped intelligence gathering apparatus in the United States,” Beers says.

He explained EMS and fire are often invited into homes and can see signs of trafficking if they know what to look for. Beers also said there is often a societal bias what human trafficking victims look like, noting labor trafficking is often overlooked, that men are a substantial portion of victims as well as children, in both sex and labor trafficking schemes. He hopes the program changes the perspective of first responders.

The program includes: a definition of human trafficking and how to recognize it, fire and EMS’ role in mandated reporting, and actionable tools for responders to take back to their agency and use immediately. The course is unique in its utilization of experiences with patients from both the EMS provider and hospital receiving point of view.

To date, Beers has trained nearly 1,000 firefighters and EMS professionals. With partnerships, his team is in the process of building an online version of the program for firefighters and EMS providers to access across the United States.

In addition to the education program, a workable protocol with information on mission partners and contact information is being developed in the region to help firefighters and EMS providers know who to call or what hospitals to utilize in the event they come into contact with human trafficking victims.

Beers has claimed a seat at the table for EMS with local coalitions to end human trafficking. He has also moved for advocacy at the state level by working with the Ohio Attorney General, the Ohio Legislature and the State EMS board by championing a mandate for all EMS providers to have human trafficking training to recertify.

“Leadership is about collaboration, relationships, and working in diverse groups to find workable solutions to complex problems,” Beers says.

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