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The movie "Save or perish", "is the story of one of our people"

Image of the movie Save or Pter with Pierre Niney – Caroline Dubois / Mars Films

  • Each year 900 firefighters of the BSPP are injured in intervention.
  • In addition to the risk of injury in response, firefighters are also increasingly attacked by malicious acts.
  • The psychological care of firefighters injured or in shock in operation has improved.

Save or PterFrédéric Tellier's latest film, inspired by a true story, tells the story of a
Very burned firefighter during an intervention. The opportunity to return to the support of the injured fire soldiers in intervention with the spokesman of the Paris Fire Brigade (BSPP), which covers the capital and the small crown, Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Plus.

How did you feel when you saw the movie?

This is really the story of one of our people who was seriously injured during a fire in a warehouse in the 1990s. Of course, some passages are romantic for the purpose of the story. but it is well documented, we are in the film, we see our daily lives, our codes … For us, the film is also a tribute to all those who died in operation: since 1967, there have been 60 deaths in Fire in the brigade Fire Department of Paris. The last one was in September,
Corporal Geoffrey Henry.

But he is not dead in the fire …

In fact, he was stabbed during an intervention but was pronounced dead in flames. It is a form of recognition. The fire for a firefighter is the Grail, the hardest commitment. This represents the ability to extract someone from certain death.

How many firefighters are injured each year?

Around 900 per year, of which 250 are evacuated to hospitals. Fortunately, the most serious cases are rare, there are less than a dozen serious burns per year. Most of the time, it is poisoning, tensions or minor injuries.

Is there apprehension at the time of intervention?

No, we are trained for that. This does not mean that we are burned, but quite the contrary, but apprehension would prevent us from being 100%. On the other hand, our relatives return us to this risk, they are the ones that make us think about it.

The film tracks the medical attention of this badly burned firefighter, his descent to hell after his accident …

This is perhaps what struck me most in the film: we see how much the care of our wounded has improved, especially at the psychological level. For about fifteen years, we have psychologists in the barracks. Obviously, they take care of the injured, but also of those who were surprised. Some interventions, especially those with children, are traumatic, even if you try to separate. Similarly, after November 13, the 800 firefighters who were in the place were received by psychologists. Some are still followed, others have been arrested for some time.

Excerpt from the movie Save or Pter about the firemen of Paris.
Excerpt from the movie Save or Pter about the firemen of Paris. – Caroline Dubois / Mars Films

In recent years, a new risk looms over firefighters: aggression. The death of Corporal Henry is the sad illustration …

This is a risk that we are now obliged to take into account. This death was an electroshock for the whole profession, it was the first time that one of our people was killed in intervention in that way. But the attacks are constantly increasing. In 2017, there were around 200 of which 130 physicists. Most of the time, they occur when relief is provided to the person, but a fire may also occur. This was particularly the case on the Champs Elysees this Saturday: some people had no interest in turning off the lights on the pavement. Some try to attack the uniform, whatever it is.

During the intervention in which Corporal Henry was killed, his colleague was also seriously wounded with knives. How are you today?

He is much better, has returned to work even if he continues to benefit from psychological counseling. In some cases, returning to the field is much longer or impossible. A few years ago, one of our people burned badly in his face during a fire in Gennevilliers. He can not climb into the fire, his skin is too fragile. We offer these firefighters training to work in the BSPP, in other services: human resources, administration … But it is often psychologically complicated: we are committed to the action, we train to enter response. When all this stops, the acceptance process is not always simple.

Did the malicious acts have an impact on the commitment?

After the attacks, we had recruitment difficulties, but this is not linked to the attacks. Other trades – the army, the police, the customs … – began to recruit and the competition was hard. Especially because we did not want to lower our criteria. But abusive calls for operations beyond our control (a locked door, a broken elevator or even a taxi) can discourage young recruits who train every day to respond to life-saving emergencies. sometimes
the operators manage to detect that this does not belong to our functions, but these interventions represent, nevertheless, one out of every five operations.

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