Who to call in a medical emergency

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

The SAMU is the French hospital based emergency medical service, providing around the clock phone support, and 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 mobile resuscitation unit in absolute emergency
• manage large scale crisis

Dial 112 from any telephone (landline, mobile, call box…. for ANY LIFE THREATENING SITUATION or any emergency requiring an ambulance, the fire brigade or the police.

Most mobile phones can dial 112 calls even when the phone keyboard is locked or the phone is without a SIM card. Calls are free.

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.
When you call 112, the operator will either deal with the request directly or transfer it to the appropriate emergency service (ambulance, fire brigade, police, etc.). In many cases, operators are able to answer in more than one language, but mostly you will be answered in the language of the country you are in.

Dial 08 20 20 41 42 (Perpignan) or 36 24 (national) for SOS Médecins

For less urgent medical problems, SOS Médecins, a private doctor callout and ambulance company. Twenty four hour service. 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 directly, on the battle field in the hope of preventing complications such as gangrene – immobilization, excision and, if necessary, amputation were the principal methods.

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 patients home, recognising that to increase the patient’s chances of survival, quicker and better ‘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


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