TGV transforms into high-speed ambulance

28 Mar 2020 by Hannah Brandler

One of France’s high speed TGV trains has been converted into a mobile hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The high-speed service is being used to transport coronavirus patients from heavily impacted areas in France’s Grand-Est region to less crowded hospitals in the western parts of the country.

The hope is to alleviate the pressure on hospitals in the eastern regions.

Each carriage can accommodate four patients, and has a medical team consisting of an intensive care doctor, an anaesthetist, a junior doctor and three nurses. In total, there are approximately 50 staff on board.

The restaurant carriage has also been transformed into a medical centre with stretchers.

The service began on Thursday March 26, relocating 20 patients from Strasbourg and Mulhouse to the less-affected Loire Region.

SNCF tweeted some images of the service:

Lionel Lamhaut, the doctor in charge of the operation, told France 2 television channel:

“The eastern region is now at the peak of the wave. 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.”

According to a report by Le Figaro, an additional TGV train will be used to transport patients from an overwhelmed hospital in Nancy to other hospitals. The city’s mayor, Laurent Hénart, asked that the service be put in place by Monday at the latest.

France 24 released a video showing the set-up of the TGV:

France’s national rail company SNCF also announced last week that it is offering free travel to French medics.

Hotels and apartment platforms, too, have been repurposed during the Covid-19 pandemic to house medical staff working long shifts.

France’s prime minister Edouard Philippe announced on Friday that the country’s lockdown would be extended until April 15. The country’s death toll is currently at 1,696.

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