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Health and Emergency Advice for Visitors Requested


Dick Smith

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I would be very grateful if the forum's combined wisdom could help me out here, please.

We have some family visiting our house in a couple of months. One of the party (retired gentleman) is diabetic and has suffered a heart attack a couple of years ago. As a result he is wary of travelling abroad, and I am trying to do all I can to reassure him and make sure that his stay is relaxing and pleasurable.

I have made up a folder consisting of advice on how to describe his heart condition (crise cardiaque rather than 'mal a coeur' etc), the NHS travellers' booklet with translations of medical terms to and from French/English and instructions on phone numbers for different emergency services, including 112.

What else can I add or do to reassure him? Any ideas and advice very gratefully received.

(I have given up on warning him against patisserie and desserts!)

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My mom fell ill during her last visit here Dick. We phoned our doctor who came out straight away, arranged for an ambulance and contacted the hospital. She was treated using her Eurocard and we paid and then it was all refunded. Totally brilliant service. When she came out of hospital we had daily visits from the nurse for injections and dressing changes.

Hope this helps.

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Thanks - I'm sure he would get good treatment if he needs it (which he won't!) - he needs a lot of reassuring, like many people after a heart attack. We don't have a French doctor, so it would be a hospital visit, SAMU job, I imagine.

I'm reassured for myself by your message! I lost a good friend who managed to have a heart attack in the wilds of Portugal.

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Why the SAMU? If your place is out in the country the I would suggest that the SAMU are not the people to call, if there was an emergency. I would have your Pompiers number to hand, it is they who deal with emergency medical things and take people to hospital.  I know that it isn't what is the norm in the UK, but it is in France and they are very good at it.

It is a question of time to get there and usually the SAMU are in the towns and some distance, unless ofcourse you are very lucky and you have a SAMU depot very close by. The Sapeur Pompiers are in the villages and and can be there very very quickly and they are trained for this.

That is the contingency plan I would make.

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TU

why call SAMU?  well one good reason even if you do live in the country but if your French is a bit weak - or if you are already totally freaked out with the stress of the situation of having someone who needs urgent attention - is that SAMU are much more likely to have someone who can speak or at lest understand English. 

If they are not local they will call the pompiers and send them rather than attending themselves - personal experieince on both counts (freaked out and calling SAMU and getting the pompiers to respond).

 

 

 

Dick since your guests clearly need some tutoring in French I would personally stick withthe SAMU number unless you know they are going to be able to communicate with the pompiers. 

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Dick

The recommendation, at least in our particular rural area, is to call 15, the emergency medical number, which will get you SAMU, an emergency doctor, or the pompiers as appropriate. The general emergency number for mobile phones is, as you know, 112. Dialling 18 from a landline gets you straight through to the pompiers.

Do make sure your visitors have current European Health Insurance Cards - not 100% essential in emergencies, but they do cut down the paperwoks etc afterwards.

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Dick

There is a very simple way to avoid all this confusion about whether to call the SAMU, Pompier, Sapeurs-Pompiers  or a doctor in the event of an emergency and people telling you who to call without even knowing what is available in your area.  What you should do, if you can access it before the visit, if not phone a friend,  is to look in your French telephone directory,  white pages. Look up the town/village that you have your place in and at the top it tells you the emergency numbers relevant to your particular area.  What I would also do, irrespective of elderley relatives with heart conditions etc, is to make contact with a local GP, you have been coming here long enough now to know one or who best to ak about one and give the doctor a ring and ask if he is happy to be the first point of contact for the non urgent medical needs of your household in France. 

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Our French neighbors told us to do what TU said... call the Pompiers.  We do not have a SAMU depot in our village, although there is one about 10 kms from us.  We do have a big pompiers depot in our village.

The only thing I would add is that, about 5 years ago, I was with my Mom in Nice.  She became very ill  ... problems with her kidneys.  The hotel called the Dr. on call, but he told them to call the pompiers as he could not get to us quick enough.  Pompiers there in less than 8 minutes.  They were wonderfully kind with us.  However, they told us they could not administer any medication, even if my Mom knew exactly what she was suffering from.  It had to be done by an Emergency Doctor or the hospital.  Luckily, we were in downtown Nice and the hospital was only 5 or 6 minutes drive.

What an experience.  Maybe things have changed since then, but I agree with Ron.  I would take an appt. with your local GP and ask him to give you the best advice on the various scenarios.  Maybe he can even do this over the phone.

You are very kind to look out for your friend.

 

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RA I looked up our village in the annuaire and it had pompiers, gendarmerie and the samu listed as emergency numbers to call + ofcourse the GDF and EDF's numbers.

DS as I said before, if there is a SAMU close by then use them, otherwise the pompiers are the people. And me, I'd take all this in and then ask neighbours and local doctors, or even at the Mairie, they will know which to call when there really is an emergency.

We are at the head of three valleys and the main through roads aren't far away. As I go to the local city where the main hospital is, then I would say 99% of the time the blue flashing lit vehicules are those of the pompiers, in fact I cannot remember the last time I saw a SAMU racing to the hospital (I'll probably see on next time I'm out) and yet there are SAMU places in the region.

 

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[quote user="Lori"]

 

The only thing I would add is that, about 5 years ago, I was with my Mom in Nice.  She became very ill  ... problems with her kidneys.  The hotel called the Dr. on call, but he told them to call the pompiers as he could not get to us quick enough.  Pompiers there in less than 8 minutes.  They were wonderfully kind with us.  However, they told us they could not administer any medication, even if my Mom knew exactly what she was suffering from.  It had to be done by an Emergency Doctor or the hospital.  Luckily, we were in downtown Nice and the hospital was only 5 or 6 minutes drive.

[/quote]

Lori, thank you for this post; I wonder if anyone knows whether oxygen comes under the category of "medication" in this context. Obviously they'll have it on board but can they give it to someone in an emergency?

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Kathy

There is so much variation in services between regions and between town and country, if you call the fire brigade in Nice you would get fireman, not an ambulance.  However in rural France if you dial the pompiers anbd tell them the problem, you would get the  sapeur-pompiers, these are trained nurses, close to UK paramedics, they do not turn up in a fire engine,  they have a red ambulance fully equipped to deal with accidents, heart attacks and other similar emergencies

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Thanks for everyone's help on this, I've got plenty to reassure him with, I think.

Could this be reworked as a sticky?

Years ago (2001) when we first stayed in our place, and even before I had discovered this forum, I mischanced to fall downstairs - not down the stairs, I went from one floor to the one below! Result was a battering, concussion, cuts and a broken wrist. Biggest problem was that we had no idea at all of what to do - even if I wasn't concussed! Now, IF I had been reading this forum, and IF there had been a sticky and even a little proforma card that I could have printed off and kept next to the phone, I would not have suffered quite so many after-effects since!

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Ron - I guess that means that the Hotel in Nice must not have made it clear that my Mom needed medical assistance.  I found it odd at the time anyone would answer a medical emergency call who couldn't administer any medication.

Perhaps they just sent out the folks who could respond the quickest...  I know now to make it very clear exactly what the problem is, should there be one in the future.

Good things to know.

 

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