MaAnn Samran, Chief of the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration (OrBorTor) confirmed to The Phuket News today (Sept 17) that the lifeguards returned on Sunday (Sept 15).
“There is one chief lifeguard and six lifeguards with lifeguard equipment, an AED (automated external defibrillator) and a jet-ski at their disposal,” he said.
Daren Jenner, the International Surf Lifesaving Association (ISLA) Marine Safety Officer for Phuket, later confirmed that the Surin lifeguards have been trained by the ISLA. **
'The International Surf Lifesaving Association trained and equipped these lifeguards, and donated the rescue equipment in the photos," he noted.
“They have the skills to look after tourists every day. They are on duty from 8:30am to 6pm,” Mr MaAnn said.
The lifeguards are the same team that were hired temporarily in August, Mr MaAnn confirmed. (See story here.)
However, those lifeguards were forced to stop their services while the OrBorTor was left unable to hire any company to provide lifeguards at Surin Beach amid a dispute with Laikhum Co Ltd over the government contract to do so, Mr Ma Ann later explained. (See story here.)
The lifeguards have currently been hired at a cost of “about B85,000” but only until Sept 30 – the end of the Thai fiscal budget year for government organisations, Mr MaAnn explained.
However, he added that after Sept 30 the lifeguards will continue to be hired month by month, meaning that the lifeguards will remain on duty through the dangerous month of October and even through the high season when the surf is not dangerous.
“We will keep hiring them until the dispute with Laikhum Co Ltd over the right to serve the government contract to provide lifeguards at Surin and Bang Tao beaches has been resolved,” he said.
“After that, we will review our options,” he added.
Mr MaAnn admitted that there are still no lifeguards on the nearby Bang Tao Beach, which is also popular with tourists.
“There are no lifeguards on Bang Tao as yet. We are still in talks with hotel GMs to provide lifeguards on the beach areas on front of their hotels,” he explained.
Amnad Chuasaman, a veteran, trained lifeguard who has for years has voluntarily patrolled Surin and Bang Tao beaches, told The Phuket News, “I am glad to be part of the lifeguards on Surin Beach, especially because Surin Beach has a lot of tourists. We are ready to save tourists’ lives.”
Today, the lifeguards had red flags posted along sections of the beach to warn swimmers that it was too dangerous to enter surf, Mr Amnad said.
“Today we posted red flags along the beach because the weather is not so good. It is windy and the waves are too strong,” he explained.
Mr Amnad reminded swimmers, “Please swim only in the areas marked by yellow-red flags that say ‘Swim Here’, and please obey lifeguards instructions to not swim in other areas that may be dangerous.
‘This is for your own safety,” he said.
** Correction: The Surin Beach lifeguards have not been trained by the Phuket Lifeguard Service, which for years provided lifeguards at Patong Beach, as Mr MaAnn initially said. They have been trained by the ISLA as now reported above.