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Medical staff rapidly arrived at hospitals spontaneously on night of the Paris attacks

A crisis plan, which was developed 20 years ago, was activated for the first time.

Image: Associated Press

“MEDICAL STAFF SPONTANEOUSLY arrived at the hospital and everybody wanted to do their best for the victims.”

Doctors who worked in a hospital on the night of the Paris attacks have described how they coped with the large influx of wounded people.

More than 300 people were injured and 130 killed in brutal attacks on Friday 13 November.

Thirty-five surgical teams from ten hospitals across Paris operated on the most seriously injured patients through the night.

A group of doctors from the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (APHP) wrote about the experience in Viewpoint published in The Lancet.

The White Plan, a crisis plan mobilising all hospitals, recalling staff, and releasing beds was activated.  The concept of the White Plan was developed 20 years ago, but this was the first time that it was used.

The doctors praise the efficiency of the crisis plan and the medical staff who came to hospitals spontaneously:

“Physicians and nurses spontaneously arrived rapidly in the hospital, we were able to open ten operating rooms and treat injured.

Another key element was related to the dramatic characteristic of the event – each participant wanted to do more than his or her best for the victims. And they did it!

“The on-call anaesthetists and intensive care doctors were helped by three colleagues who joined them spontaneously. Extra nursing staff also came to help. All these extra personnel allowed us to open two operating rooms for orthopaedic surgery.

The first seriously injured patients were operated on within half an hour of admission.

The authors said that spontaneity and professionalism were the key ingredients that allowed them to treat as many people as best they could.

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“Although emergency physicians have been receiving training in disaster medicine for more than 30 years, never before had such a number of victims been reached and so many wounded been operated on urgently. ”

“Only nine hours after the event, we were able to decrease the number of operating rooms to six and send back home some of the more exhausted staff.

“Within 24 hours, all emergency surgeries had been done and no victims were still in the emergency department or the shock trauma unit.”

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