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Rescuers work on the British man at Phuket's Karon beach yesterday

British Tourist Joins Long List of Phuket Drownings: Hospital Director Calls for Instant Response

Thursday, November 21, 2013
PHUKET: A British man drowned at Karon beach yesterday - and his death is likely to bring calls for an immediate summit on water safety on Phuket.

For more than four months, the British Embassy has been pressing Phuket authorities to set a date for a marine safety summit.

In that time, the island's record drowning toll has continued to grow, and no date has been set. At least 30 tourists have drowned off Phuket or at day-trip destinations so far this year but the exact figure has not been revealed.

Yesterday's drowning of Edward Joseph Brookes, a 63-year-old British tourist, took place about 3.30pm. His death brought a call from the Director of Patong Hospital, Dr Sirichai Silpa-Ar-Cha, for faster responses to rescue and revive people.

He said today, after at least the third drowning so far this month: ''If people get into difficulties at Karon beach, it takes the ambulance 20 to 25 minutes to convey them to Patong Hospital.

''In cases like this, every second counts. Proper cpr has to be administered immediately or the person cannot hope to survive.

''Why don't they close these spots where people drown?,'' he added. There are several ''stationary rips'' on Phuket beaches that regularly claim new victims. Not enough lifeguards are hired to cover all of Phuket's long west coast beaches.

Red flags are often placed in the sand but people who have paid for beach holidays want to swim and usually ignore the flags.

It is believed Mr Brookes's wife accompanied him to the hospital in the desperate race to save his life. But Mr Brookes was dead before reaching the hospital.

Dr Sirichai suggested that jet-ski riders should be used to patrol swimming areas so rescuers could respond faster when swimmers get into trouble.

Jet-skis with sleds are considered to be the best rescue equipment but Phuket's lifeguard budget provides them with no high-technology equipment.

Dr Sirichai said that the ambulance took about 10 minutes to reach Mr Brookes at the beach. He died before he reached Patong Hospital - the only hospital along Phuket's long west holiday coast.

British envoys offered more than four months ago to help Phuket improve its marine safety standards but no date has been set for the proposed marine safety summit.

Phuket's honorary consuls meet with the governor and local administrators on November 26. The needless deaths of tourists in drownings on and around Phuket is now certain to be top of the agenda.

An earlier version of this report said the drowning occurred today. The error was made by a reporter.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Sorry Ed, but according to your report this drowning hasn't even taken place yet, i'm writing at 3.10pm. You're the second media outlet to report this drowning and posting it before the time stated in the article.

Posted by phuket madness on November 21, 2013 15:11

Editor Comment:

Sorry, you're right. It was 3.30pm. But we got the day wrong.

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Just a suggestion if anyone in charge who cares should read this.

Erect a big sign DROWNINGS HERE

Date and Name. Chinese in Chinese language, Russian in Russian language. etc.

Would be easy and might catch some attention for safety advice's written under.

Costs a few thousand and might help.

Posted by Sherlock on November 21, 2013 16:30

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Why don't prepare or built a small hospital with an efficient emergency room in Karon and Kata, instead of waiting for an ambulance from Patong?

Posted by James on November 21, 2013 17:31

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@James- where do you draw a line? Kata is approximately 10 km from Patong, and 20km from Phuket Town- closer than most towns in the West I would suggest. Time spent in a clinic in Kata/Karon could actually hamper the ability of a larger hospital to deal with a casualty. CPR is CPR and the key is getting casualties to hospital in time. I do not know if an ambulance is stationed in Kata/Karon, as it is in Kamala, but that would be a better step if it does not already occur. The key is stopping people going in the water in the first place but what can you do if they don't listen?

Posted by Mister Ree on November 21, 2013 19:01

Editor Comment:

Shout louder, Mister Ree, shout louder. Phuket tourists are largely uninformed about the dangers.

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@James.

Because that would make sense and save lives.

Posted by Medic 1 on November 21, 2013 20:15

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There is only 1 ambulance car standing by in Kata/Karon/Rawai area. Compared to the amount of hotel rooms in this area, this is simply irresponsible. Nobody ever raises this topic. It's not considered important enough for local politicians especially when you can make so much more impressive things like starting construction works on every main road-access point to ensure that even the one emergency car won't be able to reach the hospital on time when it will be urgent.

Posted by Jakub P. on November 21, 2013 21:16

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Another summit on water safety - more talking - blah blah. The day after the last water safety summit in Pattaya someone was chopped to pieces by a speedboat propeller. I am sure the Ed will say that we must give the authorities more time, but we need action, not talking.

Everyone knows what needs to be done: education, clear signage, better emergency response.

But hey, let's have a talk about it instead. Why dont we talk about the taxis and others things at the same time! :-)

Or - just re-brand Phuket as the "Hub of Drownings"... We love to be the hub of many things....

Posted by More talking on November 21, 2013 21:40

Editor Comment:

The British are offering practical support, which makes Phuket's marine safety summit different, if it is ever held. At least Pattaya reacted swiftly to its needless tragedies. Given the lack of urgency, it does seem that rising international concern - and an offer of help - is not being taken seriously enough.

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I thought the great and the good went on a trip to Australia to find out all about life saving and fixing this problem months ago ,well why are we still pulling bodies out of the surf daily or do they now need to do a trip to say Hawaii to check out their life saving techniques.
Save all the money spent on hotels airline tickets and expenses you are using up on trips and employ a foreign expert to bring your lifeguards up to western professional standards and maybe as a simple cheap first step make up better signs to let people at least know how dangerous these beaches really are .

Posted by Scunner on November 21, 2013 23:31

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@Sherlock - Yes, I'm sure the TAT will go for that.

Posted by Buster on November 22, 2013 01:55

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Hmm..guess nobody would consider sinking/creating man made reefs offshore of dangerous tide rip beaches..be good for snorkeling and divers too?
Someone mentioned signage?...
"Dangerous tide rips..Swim at your own Risk" multilingual of course?
While tourists come to swim in the warm tropical seas, don't think any legislation,signage or policing would discourage would be swimmers?

Posted by david on November 22, 2013 12:22

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Why can't we have a small high tech clinic at each of the west coast beaches to deal with this type of emergency. This would cut out Ambulance drive time and save more people.

Posted by DG on November 22, 2013 14:24

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This man was a friends much loved Dad. Disgusting that Thailand worries so much about it's tourism trade that it forgets to protect the very people boosting it's economy. Why were there no signs? Why were the lifeguards so poorly trained and why on earth would a beach with that many deaths per year be open to the public. Shameful loss of life for a nice family that deserve none of this.

Posted by Anonymous on November 22, 2013 23:54

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I'm disgusted, after all those people drowning in a short space of time nothing got done.
That man was my best friend's dad and that family didn't deserve that as all the others or died.

Posted by Anonymous on November 23, 2013 04:27

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Rest In Peace Edward x My best friends Uncle x Deepest sympathy and condolences and love to Edwards wife and sons and The Brooke's family xoxo

Posted by Toni on November 23, 2013 05:01

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@ James Chalong will get a 'new' one (It's a saying, the4re 'is' a old one.
And the many Farang accidents in the area of Chalong, Rawai and Kata/Karon is one reason. But mostly because of the Chalong Pier and the business, there!

Posted by Anonymous on November 23, 2013 05:42

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Sherlock, signs make people aware, they do not stop people ignoring them, as we have seen so many times, they also need to be in many languages and need to be maintained, just look at the condition of many tsunami warning sings. I am guessing, and it is only my opinion, that the authorities are also afraid that too many warning signs may scare off tourists, and we know that means loss of money.

Scunner, it's not only a matter of lifeguard training, there is an abysmal lack of funding and support coming from local authorities, which sadly goes to show that money comes before safety. By that I mean take money from tourists but do not spend any on protecting them, we see this so often.

Posted by DSI Watcher on November 23, 2013 09:30

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Everybody is talking about signs, and local hospitals, etc... How many more signs do people need, before they know it's dangerous to swim? This guy was British, not Chinese, not Korean, not any other nationality that are not educated enough to do a backstroke. Why did he ignore the red flags? I wonder, how many of phuketwan's commenters here have been to karon beach? There are signs! In multiple languages. There are red flags. What more do you want? The only thing that I want to add here is, that it is bloody difficult for the ambulances to get through the thick mass of traffic these days. I bet, lives could be saved by bringing in a proper public transport, so that many of the cars and motorbikes would be off the roads.

Posted by Charles on November 23, 2013 09:39

Editor Comment:

What more do you want? A community that cares would make a good start, Charles, both with drownings and the road toll. Assuming that people are god to die regardless is the worst possible attitude. Warnings need to come at the airport, at the resort, and at the beach. People will take the beach holiday they've paid for, regardless of their abilities in the water.

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@Charles, although public mass transport might alleviate some traffic congestion, the shear weight of numbers will not make much difference to the number of road users, given that many in Thailand do not like walking then bikes or cars will remain their first choice. As for emergency vehicles, in many countries, if it has its emergency lights, AND siren sounding, then by law road users MUST move over give way, here they do not.

Posted by Laurie Howells on November 23, 2013 13:34

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Dr Sirichai's comments while useful ignore the fact that world's best practice has for years advocated the use of AED (Defibrillators)be used for the apparently drowned. Medical Professionals in Phuket should be pushing for the widespread rollout of AEDs on the island. No Phuket ambulances have AEDs and they are not issued to lifeguards. Their are approximately 21 lifeguards rostered for Karon but they still lack all terrain vehicles (ATVs) to enable them to manage the beach effectively. In Australia such a length of beach would have 6 - 8 lifeguards but they would be supported by Jet skis, ATVs AEDs and a strict beach management regime.

Posted by david field on November 23, 2013 14:23

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Why do they have to wait for drownings to occur before considering having the summit or trainings? Those drownings could've been prevented had there better equipments and training for the lifeguards if there are any lifeguards in the area at all.

Posted by Terri Roy on November 25, 2013 10:19

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If it isn't affecting revenues, there won't be much action from authorities. To avoid the truth from 'potentially' affecting revenues, the statistics are being withheld. Heavy-duty warnings to tourists are also considered as a potential threat to revenues, so we can't expect this to happen either. There is a lot of beach to patrol and the waters here during monsoon are genuinely dangerous, and more so when one considers that many of the visitors are not exactly aquatic athletes. It is a problem that requires strong action, but strong action will only send out the wrong message (Phuket's beaches are dangerous in monsoon), in the eyes of those who are in charge of matters. Letting them die and covering up the numbers actually better protects revenues. Sad but true.

Posted by geoff on November 25, 2013 18:50

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- Geoff

Very well summarized. That's how it is.

Posted by ThaiMike on November 25, 2013 21:00

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@ Jakob and mister ree, some incorrect information is being posted as fact here concerning the number of ambulances in the area. Karon drowings do not get an ambulance dispatched from Patong. Karon Municipality have a fire station on Koktanod Rd in Kata which has 2 to 3 ambulances which service Kata/Karon. Also, the "Tourist Rescue Center" operated by the PPAO at Chalong Pier has at least 3. There is also often one stationed at the Navy SAR Marine Safety Center on Kata Beach. Although not all of these ambulances are always staffed and in service.. There are also at least 2 or 3 private foundation owned pick-up truck style ambulances stationed in these areas, but they are transport only and not used for foreigners except as a last resort.

Posted by NomadJoe on December 6, 2013 13:59


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