She is there, stretched out on this train, her eyes closed, her mouth open: it is the last patient of the covid-19 to board one of the two TGVs which transferred 36 patients on Wednesday from Paris in serious condition to Brittany.
This woman must be 40 years old, her fifties at most. Difficult to read an age on these faces caught between the strips of adhesive plaster and the jumble of probes, cords, which attach them to a thin net of life.
"All the patients who are there are in serious respiratory distress", explains professor Pierre Carli, chief of the Samu of Paris, on the spot Wednesday morning, station of Austerlitz, in Paris.
In the same car, another woman, older this time, with white hair, is retained by a strap. Her blouse lifts slightly to the rhythm of her breathing, the only visible sign that she is alive.
One by one, the 36 patients, from the intensive care units of ten Ile-de-France hospitals, were transported from ambulances stowed at the foot of the platforms, even in TGV cars.
The seats have been folded down to anchor stretchers, four per car. The luggage racks serve as material reserves.
For transportation, the sick were plunged into deep sleep. They will not realize anything, they will not feel anything.
"It is an extremely safe mode of transport for patients, in terms of vibration and deceleration," says Dr. Lionel Lamhaut, emergency physician at Samu in Paris.
In barely two hours, the first patients will be in Rennes. Less than three hours for those transferred to Saint-Brieuc, six hours for Brest.
This transfer organized by the authorities should make it possible to relieve hospitals in Ile-de-France, the region now the most affected by the epidemic and which, with 870 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, are reaching saturation point.
- "Small stone" -
In the Paris train station, for almost three hours, the stretcher ball was uninterrupted.
"Patient 15, in car 7, he's coming," said a caregiver in a walkie-talkie at the end of the platform.
An army of caregivers surrounds each wheelchair. Armed with gowns, masks, gloves and charlottes, they bring the sick to their car.
At the other end, civil protection teams lend a hand to carry the sick in cars.
The doors are narrow, the corridors even more. They are each time seven or eight caregivers to maneuver, the patient is stuck in a shell mattress.
"Usually when we intervene on a train, it's more to get the injured out," said one of the rescuers.
One of the data in the equation is the weight of the patients. "Only those weighing less than 100 kg have been transferred", specifies doctor Claude Ecoffey, resuscitator at the CHU de Rennes.
Once on board, the caregivers check the constants, ensuring that there are no anomalies. The bar cars have been transformed into medical checkpoints.
The plan is precise, the gestures millimeter. Trains will leave on time, 11:05 a.m. for the first, 12:05 a.m. for the second.
In the loudspeakers, a playful way "congratulates and thanks the nursing staff and the teams present in the field".
With the usual little music in three tones preceding the announcements in stations, the voice informs that "the departure of the last train is imminent".
Kepi screwed on the head, the platform manager gives the signal. "This is my little stone in this fight", says Renaud Pretet, for 43 years at the SNCF.
Just after noon, the squadrons in white coats and the ambulances left. Austerlitz station is once again deserted.
© 2020 AFP