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DOCTORS, NURSES, AUXILIARIES: ON THE FRONT LINE AGAINST COVID-19 | M6 | Zone Interdite

At the hour when doctors, auxiliaries and nursing staff are battling inch by inch against Covid-19, the teams from Zone Interdite were permitted to follow the fight against the virus in the very heart of France’s most exposed emergency services. Our cameras had exclusive permission to accompany Army doctors as, from Monday, they set up the military field hospital at Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) to support reanimation services overwhelmed by the rush of patients. For a month, we have been following the work of the emergency staff, on the front line taking in patients. Our carers have to accomplish a heroic task:  combat an unprecedented pandemic within a hospital system that has been eaten away by budget cuts. Do they have the resources to succeed? How are they coping with the coronavirus crisis? The heart of the epidemic is in the East of France. In the ER rooms in Colmar the staff is battling with the energy of despair to treat patients and support their families. In Mulhouse, the army is deploying an original facility: in record time it is setting up an intensive care unit intended for reanimation, a use absolutely opposite to the military warfare care for which this type of structure is usually intended. At the SAMU emergency medical centre in Melun in Seine-et-Marne, the number of calls is rocketing. They have to reassure patients and take suspected cases into care without risking contaminating the staff. At the Bichat hospital (Paris 18th arrondissement), a benchmark establishment in the treatment of those infected with Covid-19, Professor Cazalino and Doctor Choquet are permanently having to reorganize their emergency services and reassure their staff, now more motivated than ever. In Martigues (Bouches-du-Rhône) near Marseille, in a service that is already exhausted, with a chronic lack of beds, they are delving into their last resources in anticipation of dealing with a potential influx of the sick. All over France the same problem is arising: how to fight the pandemic in an already complex situation. Because, for almost a year now, unprecedented strike action has impacted the emergency services. Covid-19 is casting a glaring light on the lack of human and financial resources in our hospitals… and especially on the heroism of their medical teams.