Elie Paul Cohen
Born into a French-Jewish family in Algeria and raised in a working class neighborhood in Paris, Élie Paul Cohen began his career as a music teacher and composer hoping to earn enough money to study medicine. At the age of 26 he was able to achieve that goal by using his musical copyright earnings to pay for medical school. He completed his studies at La Pitié Salpetrière Hospital in Paris and went on to study at the British School of Osteopathy in London. He then studied emergency medicine at the SAMU of Paris at Necker Hospital. After completing this specialized training, he became a consultant in emergency medicine, working both in ambulances in the field and in hospitals. He subsequently worked as a physician for ten years in London in the National Health Service, which led to his becoming a citizen of the UK as well as of France.
In 2009 Élie's knowledge of both the French and British health systems and his dual citizenship attracted the attention of the French military, which suggested he join their military health system in the active reserve. He trained with the French Marine Corps and was deployed to Djibouti in 2010 and in Afghanistan in 2011. His mission in Afghanistan was to serve as a liaison emergency doctor in the British military at Camp Bastion, Helmand Province. There he studied and applied in the field the most recent and advanced paradigms for treating severely wounded soldiers, called Damage Control Resuscitation, with the aim of writing a report for the French military. The techniques Dr. Cohen brought back to France have been adapted to the military health service, which in turn introduced them to civilian French emergency doctors, who have used them to treat victims of terrorist attacks, such as the one that took place at the Bataclan Club in 2015.
When he returned from Afghanistan, Élie felt a need to process the traumas he had witnessed, and so he began writing the narrative that he published as Médecin de guerre de l'Afghanistan à Paris: La guerre sans front. This memoir follows his unexpected journey from his anti-militarist youth to his recruitment, training and deployment in Afghanistan, in order to end with a reflection on terrorism and the new relationship now developing between military medicine and civilian health organizations as they are forced to cope with increasing attacks on civilians.
Médecin de guerre has received ample media attention. Élie has talked about his book and experience in Afghanistan on Channels 2 and 5 on French TV. He has also given interviews on French and Belgian radio, and his book has been reviewed in many newspapers and magazines.
Since 1999, Élie has been integrating his musical and medical backgrounds by working on experimental and electroacoustic compositions that use sounds drawn from human physiology. His works composed at the crossroads of music and his medical experience, include Coma, Antenatal, and DNA which is scheduled to be released by Radio France as a boxed set in the fall of 2017. DNA, which stands not only for the genetic code but also for Dead Then New Born in Afghanistan, translates into music the wartime experience recounted in his book. It includes molecular signals captured in sound as well as sounds of war.
Elie has received a number of military decorations, including:
Croix du Combattant, 2014.
Médaille des Services militaires Volontaires Bronze, 2013.
Médaille Commémorative Française des Opérations du Moyen-Orient, 2011.
Médaille Non article 5 OTAN, 2011.
Médaille de la Défense Nationale Bronze, 2011.