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April last year, and  the swim flags are flying at Phuket's Nai Harn beach

Phuket Lifeguards Still Battling For Phuket Beach Patrols

Thursday, May 17, 2012
PHUKET: Lifeguards may return to Phuket's popular holiday beaches next Tuesday - provided agreement can be reached on several remaining outstanding issues.

The lifeguards have been missing from Phuket's west coast for six weeks. And their absence is likely to reoccur at this time of the year again next year and every year, just as the seas turn more dangerous, until the present system is changed.

It's the second year that there has been an extended period on Phuket when lifeguards have been absent while a tendering operation is processed.

Phuket water safety expert Jayne MacDougall believes the system has to change in the interests of Phuket's need to project itself as a year-round beach holiday destination.

Ms MacDougall, Director of Risk Management and Loss Prevention at the Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort, believes it is in Phuket's interests to have lifeguards in place on all the popular beaches all the time.

She said that if the resort did not have the ability to put lifeguards on the beach it fronts at Relax Bay, south of Patong, the beach would be closed to all swimmers in the interests of safety.

''The Phuket authorities should close the beaches on days when there are no lifeguards operating,'' she said today. ''Phuket cannot really expect tourists to visit all year long if proper provision is not made for the safety of visitors.

''There are also beaches where Thais have drowned, too. It's in everybody's interests to ensure the beaches have lifeguards operating, especially during the more dangerous monsoon season.''

The Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation now requires the Phuket Lifeguard Service, an incorporated body run as a private business, to tender again at the conclusion of each annual contract.

This year, tenders have opened twice, with no takers. The administrative organisation then invited the service to make a bid.

The invitation at least removes one obstacle, the necessity for a successful tenderer to deposit five percent of the funding for the year.

In the case of the lifeguard contract, this means the Phuket Lifeguard Service would have had to find 500,000 baht in cash to deposit with the administrative organisation for 12 months.

Lifeguard Service managers say such a deposit is an unreasonable impost on an essential public service operation that should be more rightly compared to police or firefighters.

While the terms and conditions are designed to increase transparency and prevent corruption, the need is plain to have continuity in a lifeguard service so the highest possible standard of training and service can be maintained.

Similar operations in Australia would see beaches closed if there were no lifeguards available for patrols, especially in seas where the danger is increased by Phuket's seasonal ''rips.''

The 10 million baht contract provides for 106 lifeguards to be on Phuket's popular western beaches daily, yet the managers of the service say it's not easy to make the system effective without full support.

One of the remaining talking points is equipment.

A spokesperson for the lifeguard service said today that much of the equipment supplied by the administrative organisation - including dinghies, radios, binoculars, oxygen tanks and rescue flotation devices - was worn and needed to be replaced.

A jet-ski with a rescue sled - considered the optimum piece of lifesaving equipment - was on display last week during a rescue drill at Phuket's Kata beach.

On Phuket, only beaches where resorts have a direct involvement in swimmer safety are equipped with jet-skis with sleds.


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Australia has life saving clubs at nearly every suburban beach volunteer and community organisations funded by donation mostly, Australia doesn't win olympic swimming events by chance or luck.

Posted by traveller on May 17, 2012 14:34

Monday May 20, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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