Worse than war: Paris doctor recalls night of horror

2015-11-15 10:52


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La Garenne-Colombes -  In 2008, Philippe Juvin worked as an anaesthesiologist with French troops in Afghanistan. Nothing he handled during months in the war zone was as difficult as his night in Paris when terror attacks killed at least 129 people.

Juvin, the head of the emergency department at Georges Pompidou hospital, said he was called back to work about two hours after the attacks started on Friday.

Anticipating an overwhelming night, the first thing he did was make sure all patients who did not need emergency care were sent home.

A wave of about 50 victims from the attacks arrived between 02:00 and 03:00. They were mostly young people shot when gunmen attacked the Bataclan concert hall during a rock show.

Juvin saw what he described as war wounds in the thorax, abdomen, legs and arms. About a quarter of them were in very serious condition.

In Afghanistan, Juvin said he saw "many gun battles, explosions, buildings on fire, accidents with casualties."

Yet, "I had never seen as many victims at once," he said. "But we managed somehow."

Juvin, 51, said the spontaneous help he received from doctors living near his hospital was decisive in saving lives. Physicians who were on vacation in Paris also showed up, offering assistance.

The youth and good health of most of the victims helped them survive, Juvin said.

"Waiting one hour or two when you're wounded but young is less uncomfortable than when you're old and sick," he said.

In addition to the dead, more than 200 people were injured on Friday night when attackers opened fire at Paris cafes, detonated suicide bombs near France's national stadium and killed hostages inside the concert hall.

Read more on:    france  |  paris under attack

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