The traffic is terrible, no one seems to notice the blue lights and sirens today. Again. Good thing that although Gilles is tense, he stays calm. "I can't change the traffic anyway," he says with a shrug of his shoulders as he steers the 6-meter-long Renault into oncoming traffic and skillfully rounds the traffic jam in front of a red traffic light. "Paris is a big city". Gilles tension is understandable. The radio call from Dispatch sounds like every parents worst nightmare: A child has been hit by a car. The situation is unclear. The middle finger is used again. A Smart-ForTwo moves quickly out of the way. "Lets go" says Gilles.
Paris. The City of Love, the capital of the Grande Nation and the cradle of democracy. And: Mega City. Almost 13 million people live and work in the metropolitan area of Paris. That's more than Finland and Norway combined – but all in one place. The child comes from the region of Germany called Sachsen. To work in the Rescue Service here, you need to be a special type of person. Especially if the Rescue Service is especially for children. Like the SMUR Pediatric University Hospital "Robert Debré" in the 19th Arrondissement.
In the depths of the hospital, which claims to be the largest pediatric hospital in Europe according to patient data, a worn-out desk sits in a small, dark office. Sitting on it is a handmade name shield "Dr. Lodé". The person behind this desk stands at around 6.1", but with a presence that seems bigger. Noëlla Lodé is the woman who started and grew the children's rescue service over 30 years ago. She leads the team to this day, which she affectionately calls "her children". "Of course we have some quarrels here and there, we are really like a family. We all know eachothers strengths and weaknesses. And we all love our job".
"Petit escargot porte sur son dos
Aussitôt qu’il pleut, il est tout heureux,
Il sort sa tête."
By the second "escargot" she has calmed the little guy. The screaming changes to sobbing, then just a sniff. "We only use analgesics as the last step", she tells me later. Often distraction is enough for children. We also have teddybears and other games onboard. As well as a tablet with computer games." Marianne, a mother of two herself, can not imagine a better job. "Children are something special! If I manage to make a few kids eyes shine again, then this is worth all the effort. And I can play with them" she beamed at me,"I'm happy to be a kid myself."
It was a long and rocky road to accomplish "her" Children's Rescue Service, says Dr. Lodé. At that time medicine was even more of a male domain than it is today, but at some point she managed to convince even the last of the skeptics. She was assigned two modest rooms, on the lower floors in the service section of the hospital. Exactly where the SMUR Pediatric still is today. Modest, slightly worn, but comfortable in its own way. An incredibly loud, mechanical ringing noise interrupts us, the signal for the next mission. It‘s a red telephone that is ringing. A relic from the early days, it even has a dial. "This is a blessing," says Noëlla Lodé, "today electronic devices or mobile phones are constantly beeping and no one reacts – but when this rings, everyone reacts! There is no doubt what it means.“
It is uncomfortable outside – cold and rainy. The headlights of the cars reflect in the wet asphalt as the Renault Master with Gilles at the wheel rolls through the gate to the Rescue Station. The team is tired, thirteen uninterrupted hours in the vehicle, one mission after the next. Helicopters could not fly because of the weather, so a few transfers across Paris were also added to the actual missions. Stéphanie, the young Emergency Physician, collects her clothes and leaves in a hurry. She wants to get back to her child, today was her first shift after three weeks maternity leave.
Two hours later, she is back. Because of us she says. "I want to tell you my story with the corpuls3. I want you to know how important your job is." She tells a gripping story of the transfer of an eight-month-old baby. The child had shortness of breath. During transport, it turned out that on top of that the little boy suffered septic shock. "His face suddenly turned ashen and his blood pressure dropped. One look at the corpuls3 told us: ventricular fibrillation! This is very rare in a toddler, but the indication was clear. We immediately knew what we had to do." Stephanie gesticulates as she relives the story. "Everything happened so quickly. Attach electrodes, trigger shock, CPR. Just 30 seconds later, the corpuls3 showed us a sinus rhythm and stable pulse." The SMUR Pediatric Team had brought the little boy back. "It came down to seconds! But thanks to the corpuls3 we immediately had the information we needed to properly treat the child and save his life".
Emergency doctor Stéphanie (right) tells in the interview how she successfully resuscitated a toddler with her colleagues and the corpuls3.