Portrait of a Lady, day six

FLORENCE POMMERIE Emergency doctor, physician at the Necker Children's hospital teaching trust, medical practitioner for the emergency response teams in the Paris region, Medical Director for the Mutuelle Assistance Goupama insurance company, ...

FLORENCE POMMERIE

Emergency doctor, physician at the Necker Children's hospital teaching trust, medical practitioner for the emergency response teams in the Paris region, Medical Director for the Mutuelle Assistance Goupama insurance company, divorcee with four children: such is the CV of the Dakar's medical director, Florence Pommerie, who often wears a smile on her lips and a twinkle in her eyes.

She became involved with the rally four years ago, through the Mutuelle Assistance Goupama insurance company which won the contract for repatriating contestants injured during the Dakar, but Florence Pommerie is hardly a motor-sports enthusiast. "I don't know anything about mechanics or engines, and to be honest, I wasn't at all attracted by this sport", she says, with a wry smile. "But I have to admit, through rubbing shoulders with the bikers, especially the amateurs, I've learned to know them, respect them and admire what they go through all for the sake of their passion. Some of them have even become friends of whom I'm very fond. I'm very moved by their determination and courage. Under the canvas of the medical tent, we try to pamper them as much as possible to help get them through to the end of this incredible adventure!"

The work of Florence Pommerie starts way upstream, long before the start of the Dakar: "I need to find a team of 53 people, manage tons of equipment and carry out recon of the regions so that I know the potential of the hospitals with which we are going to be working. On the ground, we have 10 medical vehicles, called Tangos, with two doctors on board, three helicopters with an anesthetist and anesthetics nurse, and three broom wagons with three doctors... The rest involves managing a field hospital with 2 radiologists, emergency doctors, nurses, etc. We can operate at the field hospital, but only in matters of life or death. For the other operations, we work with the local hospitals, and I must say that the cooperation and coordination is perfect. As regards life at the bivouac, it's absolute madness: I work with a phone stuck to my ear, but those are the high-points of the Dakar and you get to make some wonderful encounters!"

-credit: aso

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Series Dakar