Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Waiting for support: Phuket lifeguards pitch plan to Deputy PM to go pro

PHUKET: The International Surf Lifesaving Association (ISLA) has submitted its plan directly to Deputy Prime Minister Gen Thanasak Patimapragorn to upskill Phuket lifeguards to world standard and make the critical life-saving service a professional career on the island.

tourismmarinedeathaccidents
By The Phuket News

Saturday 29 April 2017, 08:00AM


Phuket lifeguards stand at the ready. More than 700 foreigners were rescued by the island's lifesavers at beaches along the west coast in just the past year alone. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

Phuket lifeguards stand at the ready. More than 700 foreigners were rescued by the island's lifesavers at beaches along the west coast in just the past year alone. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

Deputy PM Thanasak specifically asked Phuket’s lifeguards during an inspection tour of Phuket last month. “I am here today to see the situation and hear their concerns in person. It is the main purpose of my visit,” Gen Thanasak told The Phuket News during that visit.

“Make a list of what you need for me,” Gen Thanasak told Phuket Lifeguard Chief Prathaiyut Chuayuan in no uncertain terms.

In response, the Surin-Bangtao Surf Lifesaving Club, in conjunction with the International Surf Lifesaving Association, this week issued a 33-page improvement plan directly to Deputy PM Thanasak.

In the accompanying letter, ISLA President Henry Reyes describes the plan as “an urgent and necessary step that should be considered immediately, to prevent needless loss of life.

“The arrival of the monsoon in May is the beginning of Phuket’s ocean danger season. Therefore, your immediate support to help modernize and improve Phuket’s lifesaving forces is respectfully requested.”

The plan specifically lists as its aims to 1) Improve beach safety for lifeguards and visitors; 2) Reduce ocean drowning at lifeguarded beaches (Laem Singh, Surin, Bang Tao, Layan); 3) International certification for all Surin-Bangtao SLSC lifeguards; Mett international standards for operations and equipment; and 4) Educate the public about water safety.

“The goal… is to use government sponsored ‘Lifeguard 4.0’ upgrades to reduce drowning and injury at our beaches by 50% within three years,” the plan states.

Testament to the importance of the service Phuket’s lifeguards provide, from March 19 last year through to Jan 20 this year, the island’s lifeguards rescued 755 people – 49 Thais and 706 foreigners. However, they were unable to save four people from watery deaths during that period.

Gen Thanasak’s visit to Phuket last month was in response to Mr Reyes appealing directly to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. Citing hundreds of drownings in Phuket in recent years and little improvement over the past 10 years, Mr Reyes called the ongoing deaths at Phuket’s beaches an “epidemic”.

Mr Reyes also pointed out that many of the victims were tourists from Australia, China, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom, the United States and other countries.

“During the monsoon season from May to November, dangerous ocean currents are created by strong winds and waves. These waves and currents make Phuket’s ocean waters extremely dangerous for beach patrons, especially those with little or no ocean swimming experience,” Mr Reyes wrote.

“Since 2010, hundreds of international visitors and Thai citizens have drowned in the ocean waters surrounding Phuket. According to the Thai Ministry of Public Health, drowning is the leading cause of death of Thai children under 16 years old…

“It is also a leading cause of death among tourists in Phuket,” he added.

Laguna Golf Phuket

Mr Reyes’ appeal in turn was in response to impending budget cuts by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO) to reduce lifeguard funding by 10%, despite the poor support they already receive.

Budget cuts by the PPAO and stalling on offering the annual contract to provide the critical service in years past has seen protracted negotiations leave Phuket’s beaches unguarded as the annual “drowning season” begins in May, when the southwestern monsoon whips up dangerous surf along Phuket’s west coast.

The detailed plan issued this week asks for immediate purchase of lifesaving facilities and equipment, and urges all sectors to work together to improve Phuket’s public safety image, and save more lives.

“…funds spent on lifeguard service to protect beach tourists and tourism are not simply expenses, they are an investment to support a wide range of profitable tourism businesses, which in turn supply thousands of local jobs,” Mr Reyes explained.

“We should work together to improve Phuket’s lifeguard service, because it is good for everyone: businesses, tourists, and Thai citizens alike.”

By November this year, ISLA also expects to raise over B1 million to fund a humanitarian lifeguard project for Phuket.

“Project Thailand” will bring 12 professional lifeguard trainers from around the globe to provide advanced training, and donate equipment critically needed to save more lives, the plan explains.

Mr Prathaiyut told The Phuket News on Wednesday (April 26), “We need more – and better – rescue equipment to better perform our duties. Most importantly, we need proper lifeguard towers on every beach to improve beach surveillance. We can’t just use tents like we do now, especially in the rainy season.”

He added, “Every Phuket lifeguard should have professional skills and knowledge and be trained to recognised standards under the qualifications framework in how to respond in emergencies.

Mr Prathaiyut noted his appreciation the role Australian lifeguards have played over the years in training Phuket’s lifeguards. “Each year our lifeguards receive training from Australian surf life savers, and this training improves our skills,” he said.

However, making Phuket’s lifeguards a professional service remained a top priority, Mr Prathaiyut said.

“My main goal is to provide staff accommodation, effective equipment and a respectable salary for Phuket’s lifeguards. If this can be done, then people will become interested in becoming a lifeguard and apply for the job. Then we have choose our staff, those with strong motivation and a passion for becoming a lifeguard,” he explained.

“All this will help to save more people’s lives in Phuket,” he added.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Phuket Police say investigation into Finnish girl’s death inconclusive

Whether she was a 'girl' or a woman' is immaterial, the fact that she has died is the cr...(Read More)


PPRP ‘seals deal’ to form coalition govt

So, 'translating' what the military sources are saying is that a few civilian parties are al...(Read More)


PHUKET XTRA: VIDEO: Road rage axe attack? Drugs found in rectum! Dark web bust sees 50 kids saved! || May 23

Did the police contact the Phuket based foreign Inspector .... for his expertise on how to extract t...(Read More)


May 4 approved as Coronation Day

...How many people he thinks do really benefit from those holidays ?Most Thai's are working anyw...(Read More)


Phuket braces for heavy weather, small boats advised to stay ashore

All chinese passengers, brace for heavy sea inpact before boarding coming days! You are warned! Rem...(Read More)


Phuket braces for heavy weather, small boats advised to stay ashore

Well, mr Wiwat, just covered himself (' I told you, not my responsible any further'). When...(Read More)


Four dead as pickup truck slams into tour bus heading to Phuket

Haha...driver to check if had taken drugs/alcohol. How silly is that? Riding on the back of the tru...(Read More)


One billion baht found in teenage drug dealer’s accounts

Wow, a 19 years old thai man, in drugs business with more than 1 million thb in his personal account...(Read More)


Government clamps down on surging illegal Thai migration

And, day in, day out, many thai having been illegal staying/working in Korea of course return to Tha...(Read More)


Men arrested for axe-wielding road-rage attack on ambulance

These two morons are seriously primitive in their mental capacity and cerebral development. No way ...(Read More)