The heroic doctors and nurses tell their storyby Wendell Steavenson / November 23, 2015 / Leave a comment
The St Louis Hospital in the 10th arrondissement of Paris was founded in 1607, just outside the walls of Paris, to house an overflow of plague patients. Parts of the campus have the mansard rooves and stone courtyards of the 17th century and are used as administrative offices. On the evening of 13th November, Olivier Cauvet, a nurse in the intensive care unit, was having dinner after his shift with a group of friends from the hospital in a street nearby. The cross roads where 19 people were killed at Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge abuts one wall of the hospital grounds. The medical staff eat at them so often they’re practically an extension of the hospital canteen. Olivier was at a restaurant only a few streets away. He didn’t hear the shots. But then he saw people running away and then very quickly afterwards, ambulances, one and then another and then another.
Very quickly a colleague called to warn him there were reports of gunmen driving around the area, shooting randomly into restaurants. “Stay where you are!” his colleague told him. “Don’t try and leave!” Olivier alerted the restaurant, they pulled the shutters down, several customers didn’t want to be locked in and made their way out, despite the danger. After a short while his colleagues told him that wounded were arriving in the hospital and Olivier thought, “there’s work to be done” and left the restaurant with a couple of his medical colleagues to get back and help. The hospital had shut its gates, they had to climb over the wall to get in.
The injured from Le Peitit Cambodge and the Carillon arrived all at the same time, about two dozen of them, in taxis and ambulances; several were carried in by friends. Almost all of them were seriously wounded. At the St Louis Hospital they see two or three gunshots a year, but almost always from small caliber handguns. They had never seen the damage that a Kalashnikov can cause. Olivier went immediately to the recovery room…