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Increasing terrorist attacks : Are the firefighters and EMS prepared in Isère ?

Increasing terrorist attacks : Are the firefighters and EMS prepared in Isère ?

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FOCUS – The first to arrive at the scene of disaster ; the first people we can count on. You guessed it, we are talking about the EMS and the firefighters, but don’t forget the chain of people in the hospitals, ready to save lives too. Are these professionals prepared for the risk of multiple terrorist attacks in Isère ? Here are the answers from these emergency specialists.

 

 

 

Colonel Doctor Christophe Roux. © Sdis 38

Colonel Doctor Christophe Roux. © Sdis 38

“I was in Paris on 7th January, 2015, for a mee­ting with the EMS at the fire sta­tion, 200 meters away from the pre­mises of Charlie Hebdo. 

 

Arriving first on the scene of the attack, I par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the medi­ca­li­za­tion of the first vic­tims, along­side Patrice Pelloux”, recalls Christophe Roux, colo­nel doc­tor, res­pon­sible for the health and medi­cal relief ser­vices for the depart­men­tal fire and rescue ser­vice in Isère (Sdis 38). He rea­li­zed, that day, that such acts could hap­pen again and again.

 

 

 

Feedback on the expe­rience in Paris expec­ted in January

 

 

Prevention is bet­ter than cure ! Isère fire­figh­ters and hos­pi­tals are the­re­fore, pre­pa­ring for the pos­si­bi­lity of mul­tiple ter­ro­rist attacks. To remedy any short­co­mings, “feed­back on the drama of the Paris attacks is expec­ted in January, to address the spe­ci­fi­ci­ties of dea­ling with nume­rous inju­ries, in near war-like condi­tions”, indi­cates Benjamin Garel, mana­ger of qua­lity and patient care in the tea­ching hos­pi­tal of Grenoble.

 

Benjamin Garel, directeur de la qualité et des usagers au CHU de Grenoble.  © CHU Grenoble

Benjamin Garel, mana­ger of qua­lity and patient care in the tea­ching hos­pi­tal of Grenoble. © CHU Grenoble

At least the Isère care and emer­gency ser­vices will not be caught off guard, accor­ding to Colonel Roux. “A high num­ber of vic­tims after a ter­ro­rist attack is one of the sce­na­rios we have envi­sa­ged for seve­ral years, when pre­pa­ring and trai­ning staff”, he says.

 

Focusing on the com­ple­men­ta­rity of the public ser­vices, he added : “we regu­larly work on this issue with the EMS.”

 

 

 

4000 volun­teer fire­figh­ters in Isère

 

 

In the event of an increase in the num­ber of ter­ro­rist attacks, an increase in the num­ber of relief wor­kers is essential.

 

 

“We are able to mobi­lize a large num­ber of fire­figh­ters in a very short time, mainly thanks to the Sdis – volun­teer fire­figh­ters”, explains the chief doc­tor. In total, over 4000 in Isère, in addi­tion to the pro­fes­sio­nal firefighters.

 

Many times, toge­ther, they have demons­tra­ted their mobi­li­za­tion capa­city, on occa­sions of large-scale inter­ven­tions, during floods for example.

 

In addi­tion, under the aus­pices of the defence of the south-east, the Isère fire­figh­ters share “resources and a com­mon doc­trine” with other depart­ments of the Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes regions ; the abi­lity to mobi­lize exter­nal rein­for­ce­ments in the case of a major crisis.

 

This has been in exis­tence for seve­ral years already, and is still fully ope­ra­tio­nal, accor­ding to the colo­nel. And for good rea­son : “We fairly regu­larly ask for assis­tance. For example, rein­for­ce­ment from the sou­thern region, in the case of large-scale forest fires.”

 

 

 

White plan running well at the CHU

 

 

As for the hos­pi­tals, they have a cri­sis plan cal­led the White Plan*: “The white plan per­mits us to call in a lot of people, very qui­ckly, in order to treat seriously inju­red patients”, explains Benjamin Garel. The hos­pi­tals are open 24/7, the staff do not all work at the same time, which leaves an emer­gency reserve for the establishment.

 

Although the recall plan works well, “whe­ne­ver the white plan is trig­ge­red, we are sur­pri­sed by the reac­ti­vity of the staff, who often arrive without being cal­led in. In Paris, col­leagues repor­ted that pri­vate doc­tors retur­ned to the public hos­pi­tals to help”, stresses Benjamin Garel, and not without recognition.

 

© CHU de Grenoble - Service Communication

© CHU de Grenoble

Also, a spe­ci­fic orga­ni­za­tion is neces­sary, in times of cri­sis, to main­tain the conti­nuity of care and pre­serve the safety of the patients and staff, this includes the avai­la­bi­lity of beds.

 

“When there is an influx of woun­ded patients, we try to see patients who could go home ; we acce­le­rate some releases. We can also trans­fer some patients to other hos­pi­tals : exis­ting inpa­tients and those who are easily trans­por­table, or disas­ter vic­tims whose condi­tions are stable”, explains Benjamin Garel. To cla­rify, the Grenoble CHU regu­larly coope­rates with the CHU in Lyon, as well as hos­pi­tals in Chambéry and Annecy.

 

As for expe­rience of such excep­tio­nal situa­tions, the Grenoble CHU is not out­done : “Mini white plans are regu­larly acti­va­ted. This was the case, for example, after the bus acci­dent in Laffrey, in 2007, when we had to treat over twenty very serious inju­ries, very qui­ckly. In 2013 too, after ano­ther bus acci­dent in Alpe d’Huez.”

 

 

 

A large-scale exercise every year

 

 

In addi­tion to the expe­rience gai­ned in real-life situa­tions, cri­sis trai­ning takes place every year in Isère, the same as eve­ryw­here else in France.

 

With 87 high-thre­shold Seveso sites in the Rhone-Alpes region, many simu­la­tions involve NRBC risks (Nuclear, Radiological, Biological and Chemical). Like the fire­figh­ters, “the hos­pi­tals and ambu­lances are pre­pa­red for these risks, and the phar­macy stocks anti­dotes for cer­tain pos­sible attacks”, says Benjamin Garel.

 

Sites Seveso en France au 31 décembre 2014.  @ Ministère du développement durable

Seveso sites in France on 31st December, 2014 (in pink, high thre­shold ; in grey, low thre­shold). © Ministry of Sustainable Development

 

“This may involve tes­ting a decon­ta­mi­na­tion chain, lin­ked to a che­mi­cal attack, or dea­ling with a mul­tiple attack”, says Benjamin Garel.

 

In gene­ral, the exer­cises are plan­ned on a natio­nal, zonal or regio­nal scale, with large-scale exer­cises every year.

 

Concerning the spe­ci­fic pre­pa­ra­tion for the risk of mul­tiple attacks invol­ving heavy wea­ponry, Benjamin Garel, like Colonel Roux, wished to remain par­ti­cu­larly dis­creet on the sub­ject, citing defence secrecy.

 

 

 

Psychological support of personnel

 

 

As some real-life inter­ven­tions can have a strong psy­cho­lo­gi­cal impact, and it is vital that the emer­gency ser­vices main­tain all staff ope­ra­tio­nal, so this aspect is now well integrated.

 

The hos­pi­tal in Isère also has an emer­gency para­psy­cho­lo­gist (CUMP38) both for vic­tims, and for staff. “At the Sdis, we also have a para­psy­cho­lo­gist, dedi­ca­ted to indi­vi­dual or group sup­port for fire­figh­ters, during or after cer­tain inter­ven­tions”, reveals Colonel Roux.

 

 

Véronique Magnin

 

 

* The white plan changes to dif­ferent colors, depen­ding on the hos­pi­tal ser­vices that need to be rein­for­ced : “If patients need sur­gery, the ‘red hos­pi­tal’ plan is trig­ge­red. The green plan is for medi­cine ; it is laun­ched, for example, in cases of mass poi­so­ning. Finally, we have the “yel­low hos­pi­tal” plan for pedia­trics”, says Benjamin Garel.

 

 

Traduction from Speak English Center

Phone : +33 4 76 50 39 79

1 ave­nue du Vercors, 38600 Fontaine FRANCE

 

 

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