Sunday, October 17

Help for victims: lessons from the November 2015 attacks in Paris

On September 8, the trial of the November 13 attacks in Paris opened, which left 130 people dead. Among them, Estelle, 25, killed in the attack on the Bataclan concert hall. His mother Marie came from Brittany to attend the trial. Civil party, she will testify next October. “I want to say that day, what happened on November 13th, but also what happened afterwards, in the days, months and years that followed,” she tells us, “because it changed my life like many others. And we are not done with these injuries,” she adds. Injuries that Marie agreed to tell us about.

“We had five minutes to see our daughter behind a window”

Informed of the death of their daughter by her companion, the same evening of the attack, Marie and her husband took the road to Paris. It was only after several days of unsuccessful efforts that the couple were finally invited to identify the body of their child at the Paris Forensic Institute.

“The secretary makes us sit at the desk and fill out some papers, then she asks us questions: Have you been to the funeral directors? We have to take care of it! Is your daughter going to be buried or cremated?” says Marie. “We are dazed, we say to ourselves: But we do not even know if it is there …” she said before adding that afterwards, “We had five minutes to see our daughter behind a window.”

“After that, we didn’t hear from us for a week, until they called us to put in the beer, then to collect the body,” remembers the mother. That day, “we were five families, all summoned at 2 p.m.; we enter a corridor, there are five funeral chambers lined up and 100 to 150 people are there, everyone is present at the same time, there were people who were wrong room… It was a complete mess, “ she laments. “People were screaming, crying in the hallway, falling … You enter the room and you are told: you have 30 minutes flat to put in a beer,” she describes, then, “All the coffins in a row, everyone in the hearses and voila, it’s done. These are things I’ll never forget,” she emphasizes.

Redesigned assistance systems

This story is just one example of the many dysfunctions faced by the victims of the 2015 attacks. Starting with identification errors that led some families to look after bodies that were not those of their loved ones.

Six years later, the support and support systems for victims have been redesigned, from immediate care to follow-up over time. The Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital has become a reference center for crisis management in hospitals.

Training of nursing staff in war medicine or crisis management, new computer systems, a unit dedicated to the identification of victims are some of the measures aimed at avoiding the mistakes of the past.

Anesthesiologist and resuscitator and coordinator of the polytrauma reception center of the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital for the Public Assistance-Hospitals of Paris (APHP), Mathieu Raux coordinated the arrival of many wounded there on the night of the 13th November 2015.

“The lesson learned beyond the organization of the hospital which is our field, it is a better capacity to identify the victims and to take care of them not so much on the physical level where one begins to have a good experience, but in terms of psychic support, “ he explains. Another lesson learned, according to him, lies in “a better ability to support the relatives of these victims within the hospital and in their efforts to find them. We have also learned to better support our staff because they have also been the victims of a form of trauma, “ he concludes.

“Up to eleven administrations and at least seven ministries involved in the management of mass attacks”

Under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, the interministerial delegation for victim assistance coordinates public policies in this area and strives to improve support and long-term monitoring mechanisms for victims and their relatives, by in matters of psychological support, compensation or even return to work. New tools managed by the Interior Ministry, emergency services and hospitals have also been deployed.

“From 2018 are created SINUS and SI-VIC, two IT devices: these are two victim identification assistance systems that will limit errors, duplicates, bad alerts, false alerts, etc. “ precise Frederique Calandra, interministerial delegate for victim assistance. She also points out that a decree establishing SIVAC just published: “This is the inter-ministerial information system for victims of acts of terrorism and disaster, the next step in improving information-sharing systems,” she indicates. “There are up to eleven different administrations and at least seven ministries that may be involved in the management of these mass attacks, natural disasters or extremely serious events involving very large numbers of victims,” she explains.

A new crisis unit

Another novelty is a crisis unit that can be activated by the Prime Minister or the Minister of the Interior in the event of an attack, natural disaster or accident of any kind. We are witnessing a simulation exercise of the device during a terrorist attack.

Yves Hocde, assistant to Deputy Director of Crisis Management Preparation at the Ministry of the Interior, describes it to us: “It is a telephone call platform to respond to various people who may be close or victims of an event. This device allows more than 50 people to respond immediately and if the number of calls warrants it. , we amplify it with the Red Cross depending on the scale of the event, “ he specifies.

The question of the status of victims

Bataclan survivor and president of Association of victims of the attacks of November 13 Life for Paris, Arthur Dénouveaux is one of those who fought for better recognition of the status of victims of an attack in order to facilitate their procedures, in particular in terms of compensation as victims of acts of war and reimbursement of medical and psychological expenses. . He will testify at the trial which must also, he says, allow victims to turn a page.

“We really fought for this statute to have a simpler meaning and which draws all the threads of what victims are entitled to,” he declares. “Then, we said to ourselves that becoming a victim is very fast, very passive; but at a given moment, do the State, society and us victims, we really give ourselves the means to stop be victims and not be locked into this status for life? “ he said before clarifying: “This has been one of our main fights, it is not totally finished because there is a part that falls to us. [victimes] to get rid of that. “

Is France fighting enough against terrorism?

For Jean-Pierre Albertini, whose son Stéphane was killed at the Bataclan, other questions arise. Author of “Mourir au Bataclan”, book written in homage to his son, he also questions the actions undertaken to fight radical Islamism.

“There is a medal for victims of terrorism! When a state prefers to award medals to the idea of ​​defeating a certain ideology, it is because all the same, it admits to a bit of a dead end,” he suggests. “On the one hand, we recognize the existence of victims and on the other hand, we cannot limit their number,” he points out.

An evolving threat

However, since 2017, several dozen jihadist terrorist attacks have been foiled in France and across Europe. The fruit of efforts made after the bitter failure represented by the 2015 attacks, perpetrated by individuals known to the European intelligence services, believes Jean-Charles Brisard, president of the Terrorism Analysis Center.

“We quickly realized that these networks were transnational, that they played off borders and that the important thing was to be able to exchange operational information with foreign counterparts,” he said.

“There is better cooperation between states: which is quite noticeable and important for the future and above all, the terrorist organizations which threaten and threatened us have been considerably weakened by the military offensives,” he asserts. “The threat still exists, of course; the will of these groups to strike us is there, but it is believed that this risk is now much lower than the risk of the endogenous threat,” he concludes.

This threat puts in the front line, the internal intelligence services which in France, have seen their personnel doubled since 2015.

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