In a first for Europe, 20 critically ill coronavirus patients were evacuated aboard a fully medicalized, high-speed train.
The patients were transferred from the hard-hit eastern region of France, where hospitals are operating at overcapacity, to the western Loire Valley, where facilities still have plenty of beds…
“The eastern region is now at the peak of the wave,” Dr. Lionel Lamhaut, who is in charge of the operation with the French rail operator SNCF, told France 2 television. “Every region will experience this in the coming weeks, but at different times. The idea is to take advantage of the lag times between regions and to transfer patients from the hard-hit to lesser-hit areas.”
The French railway system’s TGV trains boast smooth rides, in which passengers only feel a slight surge as the train accelerates to 185 miles an hour. Lamhaut told French TV the ride is much smoother than a helicopter — another quick alternative to transfer critically ill patients — and said patients will be stable, allowing medical personnel to perform emergency care aboard the trains, if needed.
If they can continue to stay ahead of the curve – with the coronavirus peaking in different provinces at different times – doctors hope to bring the most needy patients to the relative safety of hospitals with a lower incidence of the pandemic.