First aiders from the French branch of the Order of Malta were called out by the Ile de France Defence and Security Unit to attend the scenes of the deadly ISIS attacks on Paris on Friday night.
40 first aiders, five ambulances and three accompanying vehicles were deployed on the sites of Charonne and the Bataclan joining SAMU (Urgent Medical Aid Service) rescue teams, ensuring support to the victims and transporting them to hospitals around Paris.
Raphelle Oudart, a first aider at the Bataclan concert hall where 89 people were killed, said: “When we arrived on site, the hostage situation was not over, there were police everywhere, we were surrounded by them, all poised ready to shoot whilst we carried on tending to the wounded just evacuated from the concert hall by firefighters.
“We took them to the medical post, giving emergency first aid until they could be handed to a doctor, and then drove the urgent cases to the nearest hospitals as fast as possible. It was very frightening – the medical post seemed like a field hospital in war time.”
The first aiders also supported many of the young people who had escaped from the hall, who were not injured, but very traumatised.
“It gives reassurance and comfort – we work with our hearts, but seeing the faces of such distress – it is not always easy to find the words,” added Oudart.
The Defence Unit of the Prefecture of Police also requested Order of Malta volunteers man the specially set up telephone information centre, which ran all night.
Minister for the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, visited the centre on Saturday to thank the first aiders personally for their invaluable service, telling them: “It took courage, professionalism, competence and generosity and we have seen how together you acted to save lives in a context and circumstances of extreme difficulty. What you did last night is admired by all who saw how you reacted, with the highest professionalism and commitment. Most heartfelt thanks.”
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