Accidents in the home

This morning I opened the dish washer started to take out the dishes and a fairly heavy soup dish slipped out of my hand. It fell onto the dishwasher door split and the sharp end of a large piece fell onto my foot. Blood was spurting out of my foot. In a few seconds the kitchen floor was covered in blood! Fortunately I finally realised I should sit down and raise my foot. My wife covered the wound with layers of large plasters and it did stop bleeding eventually. We put a tight sock on and it doesn’t hurt and appears to be no swelling. Its a Saturday morning and it happened about 6 hours ago. So the plan is to leave the plasters on until Monday then take them off and whether I need to go to the local surgery.

Sorry my hand slipped again! We are hoping to move back to France in April but my wife’s main concern is what should she do in France if the accident was a bit more serious especially as she no longer can drive and maybe the neighbors are not available

Are you on blood thinners Geoffrey?

call 112 - helpline for pompiers, gendarmes and Samu

No I am in my mid seventies and so far no major illness. Had a molar extracted yesterday and it’s healing very quickly. My wife does not speak any French. I understand it’s quite easy now to find an English speaking doctor but like here I don’t think they would be available at the weekend?

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Thanks Bettina but my wife does not speak any French especially on the telephone as she is hard of hearing.

At the weekends there is a medicine de gard service that you phone and they put you in contact with a doctor. Similar service with pharmacies in that one will be open in the area. That is on top of the Pompiers and Samu.

They will all be used to people who are hard of hearing.

Is your wife trying to learn French? Quite frankly what I would find more alarming is ending up in hospital and not being able to understand.


112 is the international emergency number for all services. Works all over Europe, not just in France. Operators speak english as well, don’t know if they have a hard of hearing feature though. Worth exploring…

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Thanks Jane that’s useful information. What about A&E? We were living in France about three years ago and had to go to the A&E department at Gourdon and we were not very impressed but maybe that’s because it’s a small hospital. Would you use the A&E in France in the same way as in the UK?
My wife is trying to learn French but poor hearing makes it difficult. She has worked as a nurse all her life so is familiar with hospital routine

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Thanks Bettina we’ll check that out

We certainly have. Christmas Day OH broke his collar bone late evening. I drove him straight to A&E. I had minimal medical vocabulary. They immediately saw him. When he fainted they responded very fast. Quite frankly French/English in those moments is irrelevant. They just do their job.
Most young doctors have some English vocabulary.
For something less dramatic it’s useful to have a few prepared phrases. A French/English medical dictionary is useful to have.
If your wife has a Smartphone these days it’s possible to type a phrase in English and get a French translation - Google Translate / Deepl do that. Also, quite often the phrase has an audio option.
I’ve quite often typed out a phrase and then just handed over the French version (I do that at the vets for our dog who has masses of health problems - quicker than me trying to explain)
Bear in mind that the fire service (Pompiers) here are the first responders. They have been trained in resuscitation etc. They were the ones alongside the nurses during the vaccination programme in case of side effects. Very often it’s quicker to call them first (18) and is the best option.
Have a few phrases to hand. Not least, I ALWAYS start all conversations to helplines with apologies for my French and asking them to speak slowly.
Get a phone for the hard of hearing.


For hard of hearing you can sms on 114

I think you are absolutely right to be giving thought to all of this before you make a definite decision to move back to France. Putting yourself into a situation where you are isolated and you need a support network that you do not necessarily have, gets risky as you get older. For emergency response SAMU are amazing but you cannot call SAMU out for everything. Is there an English speaking doctor who is accepting new patients who could be your MT, do you have good neighbours, will you be reasonably near a hospital in case you need to pay for transport? Bear in mind that many rural areas are painfully short of doctors at all, not only English speaking ones. Doctors retire and are not always replaced.

Gourdon told my partner to go to Cahors when he had struggled there (16 miles from us) in dire pain and had got to Gourdon, remembering there waa an A & E there, in the car at 2am in an emergency.

For us in the Lot it seems only Cahors and possibly Figeac have emergency services of any scale at all.

If you’re very North in the Lot I suspect there may be a good hospital in Brive or Malemort. Strictly speaking that would be over the border in Aquitaine but it’s only half an hour on the motorway and Cahors or Figeac might take longer for some.

In our area the Samu generally won’t come out for an individual in their home unless very, very serious. You will get the pompiers whoever you call, and if they think the Samu are needed they will call them in.


My area too… Pompiers are always our first call… wonderful folk, genuine life-savers to whom I and OH will be eternally grateful. We never call SAMU.

Edit: Neighbours made the mistake of calling SAMU and it nearly cost the life of the elderly Grandma as SAMU haggled and woffled…


15 for the SAMU
17 for the police or gendarmes
18 for the pompiers

112 is the EU-wide emergency number
114 is for an emergency if you are deaf of hard of hearing

Stick it on the wall next to the telephone along with written out directions to your house and possibly the most common possible emergencies IN FRENCH so no thinking just read out what is there.


Pompiers: 18

Personally, I phone 18 with my prepared phrases at hand and I’ve never been let down.
Je pense c’est un attaque cardiaque
Il ne respire pas
Il a perdu connaissance
Il ne bouge pas
Il est bloquer
Le sang coule beaucoup
Il ne parle pas
Son douleur est enorme
Je pense il a cassé quelque chose

After years of this, I can now manage to hold more of a conversation.
However, having such a list is a great help when the crisis arrives, if one’s mind goes a blank.


No it’s not. I suggest you edit your post Karen. Not a good idea to leave it. It’s 18 as I and others posted above. An important number to remember, they are first responders, as people have said above


As well as one’s list of useful words and phrases… a stopwatch needs to be readily available, since one will doubtless be asked "how long was xxx unconscious/not-breathing/whatever :rofl: :+1:
I said hours instead of minutes and had everyone in hysterics once they’d got over the shock.
(in case there’s any doubt… you don’t really need a stop-watch, but do try and keep an eye on the time… it can be important. )