[Pre-hospital management of adults with life-threatening emergencies]
In France, acute life-threatening situations are handled by the French Secours a Personne (assistance to persons) and emergency medical facilities. An unequivocal success, this early management of life-threatening emergency situations relies upon centralized call reception, medical dispatching, and immediate on-site emergency medical care. We describe the different emergency care providers and steps involved in the response to emergency situations. Each call centre (Samu, phone number 15; Sapeurs-Pompiers, 18) provides a response tailored to the nature of incoming calls for assistance. A check-list of grounds for an "automatic response" by the SDIS (Service Départemental d'Incendie et de Secours--the French fire brigade) is in use, ensuring that firefighters are often the first on the spot, while the knowledge and skills of the dispatching physician are essential to ascertain the patient's needs, to preserve life and vital functions, and to ensure the patient is sent to the appropriate emergency healthcare facility. In life-threatening emergency situations, patients must be brought straight to the appropriate reference emergency healthcare facility, as quickly as possible, without prior admittance to an emergency department. This is the procedure for extremely acute emergency situations in the following areas: trauma (multiple trauma and/or uncontrolled bleeding, spinal cord trauma), delivery bleeding, other life-threatening situations such as ischemic heart disease, cardiac arrest (sudden death), cerebrovascular stroke and ensuing brain damage, some acute respiratory situations such as anaphylactic shock, foreign-body inhalation, electrocution, drowning, drug overdose, certain forms of poisoning, and conditions requiring initial hyperbaric oxygen (diving accidents, acute carbon monoxide and smoke poisoning). The reasons for suboptimal emergency care in life-threatening situations are currently a major issue, with medical facilities being reduced in some areas, fewer voluntary firemen, hospital reorganization, tight funding, difficulties of medical dispatching, and the varying skills of "first-on-the-scene "emergency workers. Grievances include late emergency responses, inappropriate medical care, and dispatching to the wrong facility. This raises the question of equal opportunity for all in a country with widely varying geographic features and population density. Improvement in the system's efficiency will require a series of objectives to be met in varied and complementary--Enhanced functional coordination, by speeding up the deployment of the ANTARES digital radio-frequency transmission network (Adaptation Nationale des Transmissions Aux Risques Et aux Secours).--Implementation of a network of emergency services with varying degrees of emergency healthcare management related to the technical nature of the facilities. Three levels of emergency healthcare must be made available: level 1 is provided by local hospitals, level 2 includes support facilities available in general hospitals (not necessarily the nearest hospital), and level 3 provides specialized healthcare in large and/or training hospitals with specialized departments. Life-threatening emergency situations are to be handled by level 2 or 3 facilities. Specific facilities must be selected as reference centers. In France, the ARS (Agences Régionales de Santé) is in charge of this procedure, as it provide funding for healthcare continuity--Reducing inequalities in access to emergency care. This will involve improving the network of SDIS brigades, making local medical facilities more responsive, delegating more medical procedures, on-site telemedicine, providing more helicopters equipped with healthcare facilities, more automated external defibrillators, and more dedicated neuro-vascular units.--First aid training must be made widely available. The French National Academy of Medicine has approved ten recommendations regarding organization and facilities.
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