Emergency services in rural France

I can not speak highly enough about the emergency services in rural France.

30 minutes ago my neighbor’s wife telephoned the emergency services because her husband suddenly felt ill and had the signs of a stroke and slowly drifting unconscious. Her first action was to ring the emergency services and then banged on my door. DRABCD kicked in, fortunately he was breathing on his own, put him in the recovery position, kept talking to him, continuously monitoring him and checking airway and breathing.

In less than 9 minutes from the phone call being made, three first responders arrived and set about their work in the most professional and rapid manner.

He was on a trolley, stabilised and in the van and driven off in minutes. His eyes were open by then and he said Au revoir to me, which was a great relief to his wife and to me, she went with him and off they went.

I appreciate that 9 mins is a long time with a potential stroke or heart attack, but we live at least 15 minutes by car from the closest little town and 35 minutes from a city. Coupled with the fact we live down a single track lane with almost no signage I take my hat off to them for an amazing job.

Life’s too short to drink bad coffee!

Long live my neighbor!

To the Samu and Pompiers I say thank you and chapeau!


They are generally pretty amazing for those sorts of situations. Many neighbours give extremely generously for the dreadful annual calendar in thanks for similar life saving acts. As well as strokes and heart attacks they are also good at getting people out from under tractors.

The only thing that does bug me round here is you have to have the pompiers first, and they call the Samu. 99% of the time this is probably not an issue, but occasionally the person needs Samu trained paramedic straight away.

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The pompiers have never come with a calendar.(We are very much cut off from the main village.) I have just enjoyed my second year of having our factrice offer their calendar. After I nudged her after reading here on SF that such a thing existed as a way of saying thank you.

Is the mairie likely to be able to drop a hint to the pompiers to include our location in the rounds next year?

Hi @KarenLot

Just drop in to the pompiers one time, ask why you never got a visit for a calendar and can you please make a donation and get one.

Not only will you do a good thing (as they say) but if you give them your address, you’ll be certain they know where it is if you ever need to call them out :slight_smile:



Great suggestion, Henri. Our local Sapeurs/Pompiers seem to know every house on the commune.

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Oh dear :joy::joy::joy: I can imagine - ours are usually not too terrible but seeing it once is enough. I buy it and it goes in the laundry room.

Ive never had any other Pompier calendar other than ‘dreadfull’. But that’s not the point is it. I always smile, have a chat and give generously. Sometimes, I think they do it on purpose :face_with_hand_over_mouth:.
In saying that, the Montréal calendar was very interesting a few years ago :open_mouth:

You are kind, mine goes in the recycling :rofl:

Hi @JaneJones

“Many neighbours give extremely generously for the dreadful annual calendar in thanks for similar life saving acts”

This reminded me of the nick name “Packer Whackers” for defibrillators in NSW Australia.

The background to it is a nice story.

Kerry Packer was one of, if not the richest man in Australia in the late eighties and nineties.

In 1990 Kerry Packer had a heart attack at I think a polo event, his life was saved by a passing ambulance that was waved down and the crew used a defibrillator to revive him. Once he was stable, he was talking with the ambo officer on the way to hospital. The ambo officer is reported as saying to Kerry Packer that he was lucky this ambulance was passing, Kerry Packer is reported as thanking them and agreeing it was lucky the crew passed by.

The ambulance officer then said, no, not us, you were lucky it was this ambulance that was passing because it’s only one of two ambulances in the whole of NSW (801,150 km²) that are equipped with a defibrillator.

Mr Packer called the then NSW Premier Nick Greiner from his bed, and Mr Greiner later recounted their conversation.

“Kerry Packer said, in his inimitable fashion, I’ll make you a deal, I’m told it costs about $5 million to put one in every ambulance, I’ll go you halves,” Mr Greiner said.

Defibrillators were then fitted into every ambulance, earning them the name “Packer Whackers”.

Kerry Packer - RIP


When I called the Samu for the first time last year, they came rapidly and our infirmière, also a local pompier, came too ! Six busy people in total.


I met him at Polo, he told me that a little white dog was putting hairs over my navy coat.

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Not as long ago as that, but after a similar incident, our Com-Com set a challenge… for each Commune in the group… to raise funds for its own defibrillator.

We held a Village Meal… which was a wonderful get-together for the entire commune and attracted folk from further afield too. Such was the enthusiasm, that locals who could not attend, still sent their money.

The machine is carefully fitted/stored in the large porch outside the Mairie door, thus well protected from the elements but available to all in time of need.

Pompiers came to give us a training course in using this possible-life-saver.
I think it’s only been used twice … but, not having it could have proved fatal.

It’s been in situ quite a few years now, but my eyes still flick towards it as I pass, to ensure that the little light is flashing (to show all is well).

I didn’t know that! Was at school though so maybe just missed it! Or I’ve forgotten.

I concur with everything that has been said but:

It was the other way round here. When Fran had the first of her 3 strokes the call to SAMU by me did not produce an immediate response and I went next door to the neighbours’. A Pompier family through and through they phoned the local station only to find that the message had just come through to them from SAMU. Marie-Paule, our neighbour, said always call the local Pompiers first for a swifter response.

But Fran was not whisked off straight away, I reckon at least half an hour in the house while they carried out further investigations hooked up to all their equipment. On one of the occasions she was eventually taken to the local football field to meet the helicopter. A furher half hour passed while the doctor from the 'copter examined and tested her thoroughly in the ambulance till finally he declared not an emergency, slowly by road to hospital in the ambulance was sufficient.

I am full of praise also for the service and always contribute to the calendar. If they don’t come to the house but just put it in the letter box I put a cheque in an envelope and put it through the box at the Pompier station.

@toryroo Nice to hear something good about Kerry Packer, all I remember about him, though not a cricket fan, was his ‘destruction’ of the traditional game with his series in Australia. Weren’t they at night with couloured strips and white balls? Sacrilege, was all I heard about it. :rofl:

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That’s the same! Pompiers first, then Samu.

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It’s good the emergency services in France provide great service when needed in rural areas as well as the cities, with many people seemingly having experienced a similar rapid response.

Kerry Packer and World Series Cricket, day night games etc… I still chuckle about and admire Kerry Packer for his astonishingly fast thinking on his feet. Some people leave you in no doubt they are a force to be reckoned with when you meet them - Kerry Packer left no doubt…

A very famous example of his quick thinking was recanted by Ian Chappell (an ex Australian cricket captain) in 2010.

He said that one of the first day night cricket games to be played, under lights as the night progressed, had to be completed by a set time (I think he said 10.30 pm, it was a while ago I heard Ian Chappell tell this story so forgive me if I get the times wrong) because at 10.30pm the council had decreed the lights would be turned off and any PA system would also be turned off - regardless if the game had finished or not.

On the said night, with Australia due to play The West Indies the council had men at the stadium ready to enforce the council rules and shut it down if needed.

The game commenced and for whatever reasons the game was going slower than anticipated and it became obvious the local council deadline for the lights wasn’t going to allow a finish to a thrilling encounter.

So the story went, a WSC executive tentatively approached Packer who was in the crowd and whispered the bad news to him, Packer paused for a few seconds and told the executive to “get someone to go and slow the tower clock down”. The clock (which was being intently watched) was slowed sufficiently by the ground-staff that the game ended bang on 10.30pm (according to the clock tower clock), the lights stayed on, the day night game was a huge success, the rest is history.

Difficult problems sometimes need simple solutions.

Love him or hate him, he was Kerry Packer

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Sorry Jane, I didn’t make myself clear, I was told that you have to ring SAMU first but our neighbour advised against the rule as it saved time by not having to wait for the wheels to be put in motion till it got to the Pompiers. The point was proved by the fact that the Pompiers would have been here almost straight away, if rung first, but in the event had only just heard from SAMU when M-P rang the Pompiers, some half an hour at least after I rang SAMU. This is possibly because the SAMU don’t contact the locals but the main Pompiers in a nearby town. So 3 phone calls instead of one.

I think this is perhaps something which varies from area to area…
since, locally, it is the Pompiers who are first to be contacted, in any emergency situation.

I have now witnessed their swift response, professionalism, medical expertise and gentleness on many occasions; several times for OH, sometimes for others and sometimes for me.

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You seem to have a lot of Aussie stories, have you lived there or just mad on cricket?? :rofl:

Hi @toryroo Have I lived in Oz?

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