In a Viewpoint published in The Lancet today, a group of doctors from the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (APHP) describe in chilling detail how they coped with the large influx of wounded on the night of Friday November 13, 2015, following the co-ordinated attacks. Operating continuously through the night, 35 surgical teams from 10 hospitals across Paris operated on the most seriously injured. Most of the patients were less than 40 years old. The doctors praise the efficiency of the crisis plan in Paris that ensured casualties were dispatched to appropriate hospitals across the region and prevented medical staff from being overwhelmed in case of additional attacks.
Despite the brutality and appalling human toll (more than 300 injured and 130 dead), the authors describe the spontaneity and professionalism of their colleagues and deliver an inspiring message: "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. A new threshold has been crossed...Professionalism was present at each level...difficulties vanished, working together appeared fluid and somehow harmonious...Solidarity was observable inside the APHP hospital but also between the different APHP hospitals."