“Communities are the first line to face disasters,” Rear Admiral Kanokpol Pimthong, Deputy Chief of the Phuket ISOC branch, said yesterday.
“If the community or locality is prepared to face the situation and can be initially self-reliant to respond to the situation, it will help reduce the loss of both life and property,” he added.
The disaster-preparedness training was held at Nai Harn Lake public area. All participants were trained in fire suppression and water rescue training.
Leading the training were training officers from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Region 18 office, based in Phuket.
The activities aimed to enable community leaders and citizens to learn and understand disaster management practices, explained Capt Ekkomsan Deeprasert, Phuket ISOC’s Head of Policy and Planning.
“So that they are ready to participate in disaster risk reduction and support disaster prevention and mitigation activities," he added.
“Att present, disasters, both natural and human-caused, have tended to become more severe and unable be stopped,” R/Adm Kanokpol said.
“Therefore, supporting the community to have knowledge and understanding and participating in disaster response and management both before and after disasters is extremely important," he said.
“By doing so, they will be able to reduce the risks and impacts of disasters and increase safety,” he added.
The training exercise yesterday followed a large wildfire razing some 50 rai of hillside land at Laem Krathing, just north of Nai Harn Beach, last month.
Some 16 tourists stranded on rocks at Laem Krathing were rescued by Navy personel after it was realised they had no safe means of escaping the fire by land.
Fire teams doused the smaller continuing brush fires to contain any further spread, with special attention given to preventing the fire from getting any closer to a nearby resort. A small fire break was created to protect some local houses.
Firefighters remained on watch throughout the next day as small wildfires continued to burn through the night as the fire burned itself out.
Dry grass and strong winds had helped the fire to spread quickly, Rawai Mayor Aroon Soros noted.
“During this period in Phuket, it rarely rains, causing dry grass to become more fuel for fire,” Mayor Aroon said.
“As for what started the fire, there are only two possible causes. One is the hot weather and dry grass leading to the fire starting naturally. The other is a discarded cigarette butt,” he said.