[artinfo] http://www.00-00-0000.org - Heat wave in Paris, August 2003.

xavier cahen cahen.x at levels9.com
Sat Jul 22 22:38:54 CEST 2006

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   Heat wave in Paris, August 2003.
   [ Paris, August 10,2003 ]
   Today August 10, the sun has been shining for several days and the
   summer seems to settle durably on Paris.
   August in Paris is always an exceptional moment, moment or the city
   empties its inhabitants to leave the place to the tourists, with calms
   and the relaxation which accompany the holidays.
   It is also time or the inhabitants find a vaguely human character of
   attention and glance towards the other, illustrated in film of Pierre
   Granier-Deferre or the song of Charles Aznavour in "Paris in August".
   It is also the time of the long walks without goals no destinations,
   just to see the city, its coffees with terrace and its inhabitants...
   My walk started in front of the town hall of Paris to see "Paris
   Plage" and the bank roads transformed into artificial beaches, of the
   quay of Tuileries to the quay Henri IV, then going up the boulevard
   Sébastopol and Magenta, I passed to Barbès Rochechouart. I went along
   the Barbès Boulevard, crossed the Pigalle place, and descended the
   street Pigalle in direction from the place of Concorde and his famous
   fountain of the rivers from 1840.
   Then, I went along the Seine and am directed to me towards Trocadéro
   and its basin refitted after the World Fair of 1937, equipped with its
   battery of very powerful water jets (5700 liters by second) placed in
   its top and supplemented by a double line of water jets aligned on
   each side.
   Throughout this walk, the crushing heat of the city seemed
   irresistibly to soften the strict social organization of the city, the
   lawns and fountains accommodated here and there, of the children, of
   the adults, wearing of bathing suits, shorts, slipways held unusual of
   very Parisian elegance...
   The many laws and prohibitions of the parks did not seem any more to
   have any effect or application front of the rise of the thermometer,
   the townsmen sought freshness at all costs, each fountain was
   transformed into bath of feet, in public swimming pool...
   I continued my course in direction of the André Citroen park, the most
   significant Parisian creation of park since the Second Empire,
   organized in a vast rectangle (of 320 X 130 m) perpendicular to the
   Seine, containing 25 fountains, 8 greenhouses and 1 hectare of water,
   to finish to the place of the châtelet front of the Fountain of the
   Palm tree, decorated with horns of plenty carved by Louis Simon Boizot
   and decorated his four sphinx.
   The unconcern of the holidays, the joy of the children playing in
   water, the dynamism of the young people crossed during this day and
   the silence of the media did not let anything appear drama which was
   achieved silently in the city.
   Indeed, in Paris, the temperature exceeded the 39°C, with 9 days of
   temperatures higher than 35ºC.
   The records of average estival temperatures of 1922 and 1976 were
   beaten. A night temperature record is reached in Paris in the night
   from the 10 to August 11: 25,5°C. According to Météo France, "this
   period of heat wave exceeds all by far that was known since 1873
   (first weather statements) by its intensity and its length, as well on
   the level of the minimal, maximum temperatures as average".
   This heat wave, according to estimates' of the epidemiologists of
   Inserm, would have been responsible for almost 15 000 deaths during
   August 2003.
   The surmortality due to the heat wave is estimated by the researchers
   of Inserm at 14 800 deaths between the first to August 20, is 55% of
   more than the number of deaths awaited over this period. Paid to 540
   000 the one year deaths on the metropolitan territory, this
   surmortality represents two months of life lost for the whole of the
   French population and the first retreat recorded since the beginning
   of the thirty glorious ones.
   The report specifies in addition that the surmortality indeed was
   "synchronous with the period of heat wave". It brings as precise
   details on the typology of the victims and confirms as they are the
   old people of more than 75 years which underwent the consequences of
   strong heats the most. They represent 70 % of the deaths. Women (60%)
   were more touched that the men (40 %). And it is in Ile-de-France and
   in the Center that the surmortality was most significant (respectively
   130 % and 100 %).
   Hospitals, the urgencies and the death chambers were quickly
   saturated, significant heat not allowing to preserve bodies in a not
   cooled part. A cooled hangar of the Rungis's market, logistic carriage
   center of agro-alimentary in the Parisian suburbs, was placed at the
   disposal in order to store the bodies temporarily there. At the date
   of August 24, in Paris area, they are still 300 bodies not claimed by
   the families which await a burial with Rungis and in trucks
   refrigerated in Ivry-sur-Seine.
   The services are long in becoming aware of the human drama that the
   heat wave is causing. The first alarms are launched by the persons in
   charge for the emergency services in the hospitals which are seen
   overflowed. Whereas the heat wave grows blurred after August 15, the
   French authorities are pointed finger for the slowness of the startup
   of the emergency plan: the white plan.
   The general manager of health, Lucien Abenhaïm, resigns.
   The president of the Republic, Jacques Chirac, whose silence is
   criticized by the opposition, expresses himself two weeks after the
   end of the crisis, with his return of holidays. He denies the
   responsibility for the executive in the tragedy and underlines the
   lack of solidarity between citizens, deploring the degradation of the
   social bond, in particular towards the old people. The president
   announces in particular a revision of the services of prevention and
   alarm, as well as organizations first-aid and emergency.
   The medical and care world answer in a general way by refuting
   simplification and the deresponsabilisation.
   The tragic extent of the events of the summer 2003 set questions on
   the French society and its political organization, which in Europe, is
   the only one to have known such a heavy human assessment.
   The extent of the medical catastrophe caused in France by the heat
   wave is much more significant than in the other European countries
   however them so touched by strong heats. It put at the day a whole of
   dysfunctions in the system of French health. It also caused a polemic
   on the capacity of the political leaders to evaluate the emergencies
   of this type and to react to take adequate measurements.
   It reveals a political and organisational crisis significant revealing
   the weaknesses of the dialogue between the ministry for the interior
   Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy and the social ministries of Mr. François Fillon.
   - Bulk-headings suitable for the ministry for health.
   - The weaknesses of the dialogue between the interior's ministry and
   the social's ministries.
   Thus Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy affirmed before the commission of the report
   "France and the French front of the heat wave: lessons of a crisis ":
   "no information" then allowed the ministry interior to seize the
   extent of the catastrophe. The management reports of the brigade of
   the firemen of Paris underlining an increase in the number of
   interventions were received every day at the minister office, but the
   fluctuations of significant activities are recurring with the brigade.
   According to the minister, "the interventions of the firemen of Paris
   are on average 800 per day over the year. August 8, 1 000
   interventions were listed (...) the figures of the last week reveal
   950 interventions with victim per day (...) no moment, it was not
   announced to my office cases of significant surmortality, no even as
   the firemen encountered particular difficulties to ensure their
   mission ". The heat wave was short and brutal, but no signal of
   information functioned with the interior's ministry which,
   consequently, was not able to diffuse relevant alarms...
   Statistics comes from the report presented at the Senat :"La France
   and the French front of the heat wave: lessons of a crisis "...
   Kristine Barut Dreuilhe
   English Translation
   Ulrich Mathon
   dawn to dawn... de l'aube à l'aube... Amanecer al amanecer...
Paris France


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