The call by Ms Sirawee, made during Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong’s inspection of Phuket’s major northern tourist beaches on Saturday (May 12), came less than 24 hours after The Phuket News carried its page one story “On Guard: Grave doubts over Phuket’s fragment lifeguard coverage” on Friday. (See story here.)
Joining the inspection team at both Surin and Bang Tao beaches on Saturday were Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Phuket office (DDPM-Phuket) Director Prapan Kanprasang and Thalang District Chief Adul Chuthong.
However, Ms Sirawee directed her call for action directly at the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor).
“I want the PPAO to provide the support to get the necessary equipment, such as stretchers, rubber boats and other rescue items – everything that will support lifeguards to be ‘perfect teams’ to save tourist lives,” she said.
In concert, Governor Norraphat added, “Phuket province really wants experienced lifeguard on every beach who understand lifesaving and first aid, who are strong swimmers and have rescue skills.
“Next, we want to launch a new project to support and promote the beaches that are kept clean, that have the best lifeguards and those where the lifeguards rescue people form the dangerous surf,” he added.
A committee has been already tasked with driving the project, with each beach to be awarded points, Gov Norraphat explained.
Points will start to be awarded to beaches from tomorrow (Tuesday, May 15), Gov Norraphat said.
At Bang Tao Beach on Saturday was Daren Jenner, Warrant Marine Safety Officer - Phuket Specialist for the International Surf Lifesaving Association (ISLA).
Mr Jenner handed to Governor Norraphat a copy of the ISLA’s beach safety audit for Phuket, where all beaches except Patong failed to provide appropriate lifeguard protection for swimmers.
Mr Jenner niformed Governor Norraphat that the board of directors of the ISLA had prepared a global online petition that will be distributed to ISLA’s 25 member countries.
“This online petition will be circulated in our member countries, and will signed by lifeguards, nurses, and medical doctors worldwide,” Mr Jenner explained.
“The completed petitions will then be sent to diplomats and heads of state around the globe, asking them to issue an official travel warning for Phuket.
“ISLA will also issue their own Travel Warning for the beaches of Phuket. This is the first time the ISLA has taken such severe action, and the board of directors was unanimous in support of the action,” he added.
“For far too long, Phuket’s beaches have been under protected,” Mr Jenner told The Phuket News.
“The need for a comprehensive lifeguard service is urgent. We are already experiencing multiple drownings every week, and the high surf danger season hasn’t even begun. Every day of delay means more lives will be needlessly lost, and tourists will witness these gruesome scenes first hand,” he said.