If you have a medical emergency in France…

Dial 15 for the SAMU (Service d’Aide Médicale Urgente)


This should be your first port of call before going to A&E.
If you find yourself faced with a medical emergency in France, you will need to call SAMU on 15.
SAMU is the French hospital based emergency medical service, providing round-the-clock phone support as well as swift and appropriate emergency call out. Dial 15 at any time if an emergency medical situation arises. They will: –

☛ Give medical advice over the phone
☛ Send ambulances where appropriate
☛ Send a GP to your home
☛ Send a mobile resuscitation unit in an absolute emergency
☛ Manage a large scale crisis

Dial 112 from British and other mobiles and your call will be redirected to the local emergency telephone number.

 Most mobile phones can dial 112 calls even when the phone keyboard is locked or the phone is without a SIM card. The switchboard is able to transfer you directly to an English-speaking specialist in the emergency services who will identify the type of emergency based upon the information supplied.

This is a European helpline and can be called from any country in the EU. Some Member States (Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Malta and Sweden) have introduced 112 as their main emergency number. In most countries however, including France and Britain, 112 operates alongside national emergency numbers.

Dial 08 20 20 41 42 (Perpignan) for SOS Médecins or 36 24 to access the same service elsewhere in France

For less urgent medical problems you can call SOS Médecins. They provide a private doctor call-out service, a 24/7  ambulance service and they also have a clinic at 163 rue du Clos Banet in Perpignan (near the CAF). You will need to make an appointment but they can usually see you pretty fast. Visits are reimbursed by the Social Security as long as you are eligible.

Spotlight on….. the SAMU


In 1792, Dominique LARREY, Napoleon Bonaparte’s surgeon-in-chief used to treat casualties on the battle field in the hope of preventing complications such as gangrene. His principal methods were immobilisation, excision and, if necessary, amputations.

Subsequent wars have confirmed the importance of early treatment.

The SAMU was created in the 1960s when a group of doctors wished to redress the balance between the treatment a casualty received in hospital compared to the available treatment at a road accident or in a patient’s home. They recognised that a patient’s chances of survival increased the more quickly they were treated and decided that ‘on the spot’ measures were imperative.

Despite initial scepticism, the French Ministry of Transport contributed to the development of the first pilot Hospital Mobile Intensive Care Units (H-MICU) and since then the SAMU has gone from strength to strength.



  1. SVP forgive me that I can’t remember the name of the founder of SAMU. He was a member of The Club of Rome.

  2. In 1967, I met Le Patron , member of The Club of Rome. He who was my sponsor to observe reanimating. I worked in original SAMU vehicles transporting critical patient between hospitals snd then met his student Pr HUAULT @ StVdePaul. Pr HUAULT became my life mentor in critical care. PS: I also transported people patients by military helicopter from all over France to Paris when available and needed.

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