Surge in French police, army sign-ups

2015-11-27 05:42
French police officers stand guard after the Paris attack. (Christophe Ena, AP)

French police officers stand guard after the Paris attack. (Christophe Ena, AP)

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Paris - France's emergency services and military have seen a surge of interest from young people keen to join up after watching the Paris attacks unfold on television.

"During the attacks I saw all these emergency workers helping people voluntarily. I just felt powerless sitting in front of the TV and I said to myself that I wanted to help people as well," said music student Simon Chaudemanche.

The police, fire brigade and armed forces have all reported a jump in young people asking about careers - or like Chaudemanche, wanting to volunteer for a few months.

Fire service

A day or so later the 20-year-old decided to go and volunteer with the Paris fire brigade, where the recruitment office is seeing up to 20 enquiries a day, five times more than before the November 13 carnage, which left 130 people dead and 350 wounded.

Chaudemanche signed up for 10 months of community service as part of an ambulance team - run by the fire service in France - in return for a token payment of around €5OO a month.

The military recruitment centre in Rennes, in western France, has seen a similar trend, with visitor numbers around double their normal level on many of the days after the attacks, according to recruiting officer Captain Gael Briand.

For 18-year-old Alexandre Frapard, the attacks reawakened a long-held dream of joining up and now he says he is ready to drop out of university and sign up.

"From the age of 12 or 13 I've wanted to join the Marines. With the attacks I thought about it again, it put the idea back in my head," he said.

Former economics student Baptiste Girard sees himself as a fighter pilot. It is a role much in the public eye since France stepped up air strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.

Young recruits

French TV stations have flooded the airwaves over the past week with images of Rafale jets taking off on bombing runs from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier off the Syrian coast.

Girard says he wants to "serve the country" and "defend its values... which are being threatened."

The police, whose elite units stormed a Paris apartment and killed the ringleader of the attacks, have also been drawing potential young recruits.

Its recruitment website saw a boom in visits after the attacks, with more than 20 000 visitors a day compared to 7 700 before.

Downloads of sign-up forms for police support officers have increased seven-fold up to 360 a day.

Read more on:    france  |  paris under attack

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