The psychologists, psychiatrists and nurses of the medico-psychological emergency unit (CUMP) of Var have not yet been deployed to the scene of the fires that have ravaged the department since Monday, August 16. Alerted by their coordinator, Camille Rossi, psychiatrist at Sainte-Musse hospital, in Toulon, they stand ready to intervene.
If they are called upon, as during the attack on the Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, on July 14, 2016, or following the floods linked to storm Alex, in 2020, their mission will be to identify difficult victims. to detect. “Depending on the course, between 20% and 30% of those affected will experience a trauma, and will be at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder”, explains Thierry Baubet, psychiatrist at the Avicenne hospital in Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis) and scientific referent of the National Center for Resources and Resilience.
“Early care is decisive”
After a fire, people affected by trauma may experience disturbances such as constant alertness, feelings of insecurity, or distressing physical sensations. Burning odors, feelings of suffocation, heat, as well as sleep disturbances are some of the symptoms of these post-traumatic disorders, which are often insurmountable without appropriate care.
It is these victims at risk that the members of the CUMP of Var will have to try to identify, in order to direct them, as quickly as possible, to a course of care. “The more trauma is allowed to evolve, the more it becomes anchored in the psyche. Early care is decisive ”, assures Nathalie Prieto, national referent psychiatrist for medico-psychological emergency cells. These units are deployed on average ten times a year and per department, with strong disparities between rural areas and large cities.
Quick access to appropriate care is anything but obvious. First of all because of the reluctance of the patients themselves. For Thierry Baubet, these increase with the severity of the psychological damage: “This is explained first of all by avoidance, we don’t want to talk about the trauma so as not to face it again. Then there is a shame to go wrong when you are not physically affected. “
But the difficulties of access can also be explained by the offer of care itself. At the level of the department, the CUMPs are deployed with the SAMU, immediately after the disaster. They are directed to populations notified by the emergency services or the authorities, and meet with each person in order to provide immediate soothing care and identify those at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. These will be directed as quickly as possible to health professionals and support structures that are members of the CUMP network, who will take care of them as a priority.
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