Doctors give chilling account of treating casualties of Paris terrorist attacks

In The Lancet, MDs from Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris describe the spontaneity and professionalism of their colleagues

Map of Paris attacks and prehospital emergency response (Source: <em>The Lancet</em>, 25 November 2015)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, following the coordinated terrorist 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 younger 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 give 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.

Read the doctors' account

This viewpoint is freely available on

Martin Hirsch, MsC; Prof Pierre Carli, MD; Prof Rémy Nizard, MD; Prof Bruno Riou, MD; Barouyr Baroudjian, MD; Prof Thierry Baubet, MD; Vibol Chhor, MD; Charlotte Chollet-Xemard; Nicolas Dantchev, MD; Nadia Fleury, MsC; Jean-Paul Fontaine, MD; Youri Yordanov, MD; Maurice Raphael, MD; Prof Catherine Paugam Burtz, MD; Prof Antoine Lafont, MD (corresponding author), on behalf of the health professionals of Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris: "The medical response to multisite terrorist attacks in Paris," The Lancet (25 November 2015)

About The Lancet

When English surgeon and social reformer Thomas Wakley founded The Lancet in 1823, he announced, "A lancet can be an arched window to let in the light or it can be a sharp surgical instrument to cut out the dross and I intend to use it in both senses." This philosophy remains at the heart of the journal today.

Through the 19th and 20th centuries, The Lancet pursued its mission to grow the evidence base the world's medical community requires to combat the global burden of disease. Entering the 21st century, The Lancet has launched specialty journals in the fields of oncology, neurology, infectious diseases, respiratory medicine, global health and diabetes and endocrinology.

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