The world watched in horror as the death toll from the Paris terror attacks steadily climbed. By the time the three-hour rampage ended on Saturday and authorities put the number of those killed at 129, onlookers could only brace for worse news to come. More than 400 people received medical treatment at hospitals in the stricken city; dozens of them were listed in critical condition.
The second spike in the death toll never came. Just three of those hospitalized with grave injuries have died in the four days since the attacks.
The world-class status of the French health-care system deserves much of the credit. But a good deal of preparation, experience, and more than a little bit of lucky timing also helped save lives.
Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, from which 16 people died, Paris-area ambulance crews and emergency personnel have taken part in regular exercises designed to test their readiness for possible attacks. One such exercise was held on Friday morning, the day of the latest terror attacks. In a twist of fate, the simulated emergency was a mass shooting, according to Dr. Mathieu Raux, emergency room chief at the Pitié-Salpetrière hospital in Paris.