Failure of emergency numbers: “This incident was foreseeable”, laments the spokesperson for the Association of Emergency Physicians of France

Christophe Prudhomme, spokesman for the Association of Emergency Physicians of France, denounces an accident that could have been anticipated, and points to the state, which has not taken “its responsibilities.”


“This incident was foreseeable”, said Thursday, June 3 on franceinfo Christophe Prudhomme, doctor at Samu 93 and spokesperson for the Association of emergency physicians of France, while a giant blackout of emergency service numbers hit France on Wednesday evening and in the night from Wednesday to Thursday.

“The State has not taken its responsibilities”, he denounces again, while the emergency numbers are working again Thursday morning according to the operator Orange.

franceinfo: Can you confirm that everything is back to normal this morning?

Christophe Prudhomme: A priori, in Ile-de-France, the problem seems to be resolved. But when a call doesn’t arrive, we don’t have the information, so we have to wait until the morning to see if, indeed, everything is working. The incident happened when we have the most calls, it’s catastrophic. It starts to go up from 4 to 5 p.m., and we have the peak calls between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., which is a critical period. We will have to take stock, because for a certain number of patients, there has surely been what is called a loss of luck, that is to say a delay in intervention in the event of distress. vital. These are preventable deaths, unfortunately. Because when you can’t reach the 15th, when someone suddenly collapses in front of you, has cardiac arrest, every minute counts, and looking for the right number because you can’t reach the 15th, the 18th, that it does not respond, beyond the anxiety, it is a loss of luck for the patient.

How did you manage the first hours of blackout?

We tried to do the best. Unfortunately, we were quite helpless. What dominates here today is a great anger, because this incident was foreseeable. For many years, we have insisted on the fact that with the proliferation of operators, the liberalization of telecommunications, our systems are not secure. On the other hand, they are not sized up to what we want. In 2015, during the attacks, the standards were saturated. We were promised improvements that were not implemented. During the first wave of the coronavirus epidemic, in 2020, the then Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, encouraged the entire population to call 15. Me, I was on call that day -the. At 8 p.m., it was on the television news, at 10 p.m., our switchboard exploded. We have a system that is absolutely not secure. We liberalized telecoms, we no longer have single state operators, and we absolutely did not manage the fact that in the event of an incident, we needed a back-up system. This backup system does not exist today, so we will have to invest. There is an underinvestment in the essential public services of the 15th, 18th and 17th.

Was a failure of this magnitude predictable?

Yes, she was predictable. I have been saying this for years. I lived through the period of France Telecom, PTT, a single public operator. He was our interlocutor, we could discuss with him the security of our system. Today, we have several operators, four major operators, it is very complicated for us. And the State has not taken its responsibilities and has not imposed investments on these operators to ensure the safety of the population. Today, the telephone system is computer driven. We know that IT brings us great benefits, but that these are fragile systems and that it is absolutely necessary, for missions which are essential missions for the population, to ensure that the system is secure. And for that, heavy investments are needed. But between the State which asks us for savings and telephone operators who think only of winning market share, we do not secure the numbers essential for the safety of the population. And that is scandalous.

[Christophe Prudhomme est tête de liste LFI-PCF aux élections régionales en Seine-Saint-Denis]


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