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Unprepared for preparedness, Phuket has to get ready for the next disaster

Phuket Volunteers Hard to Find in Emergencies

Thursday, August 13, 2009
PHUKET'S state of preparedness for man-made and natural disasters was questioned today by the Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob, and other leading officials.

The island is the only part of Thailand that has had a tsunami, a major air crash with 90 fatalities, and an airport invasion, all within the past five years.

Each case required a specific type of response.

Yet as Governor Wichai learned today, Phuket is at present incapable of differentiating between what's required after a tsunami and an airport invasion, or an aircraft crash.

Diplomats and security experts from a number of countries have been making the point for some time that, even with its unique experience with disasters of several kinds, planning for an appropriate response on the island is poor.

The issue is even more important now that the heads of 16 countries, some with serious terrorism concerns, are probably heading for Phuket in October.

Governor Wichai said today that he was disturbed during the July Asean summit of 27 foreign ministers and delegates when a call for the help of the 1800 volunteers, supposedly organised under the banner of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, actually produced a turn-out of just 76 people.

''A lot of them must have died suddenly,'' he said. ''Or maybe their ghosts turned out.

''How can we have a system where volunteers take their roles seriously?'' the governor asked. ''I will be the one that Bangkok looks to for an answer if something goes wrong.''

One of the southern provinces' senior experts on appropriate responses, Major General Decha Budnampetch, a former Phuket Police Chief, said standards needed to be set and maintained for a variety of disaster scenarios.

''A number of crises are possible on an island like Phuket, many of them involving the airport, so it's a matter of preparing everyone for a variety of situations.

''We need answers to all the questions that can be anticipated and a lot of practice to make sure the response is appropropriate and successful.''

A cooperative unit is to be set up under the title ''Team Thailand'' to deal with potential problems at the airport.

Between August 24 and August 29, simulated exercises and training will be held there.

Phuket is the last of the provinces with airports in Thailand to be visited by Major General Decha to introduce a disaster response program.

At today's meeting were representatives from the Army's Internal Security Operations Command, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Airports of Thailand, the Public Health Ministry, Tourism and Sport, and local emergency services.

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Help ? Not needed, go away, you are a bad falang. We do not need you . . .! Typical responses when one wants to help here. Some falangs on this island are highly trained in disaster management, rescue and medics.

But unfortunately, they have been told they are not needed, nor wanted at accidents or at disasters. In fact they even get the blame for causing the disasters in the first place. So you want volunteers on this island, D I Y .

Posted by Mouse on August 13, 2009 17:39


Foreigners needing work permits to volunteer is the problem. Plenty of capable, reliable ex-pats reside here, unfortunately unable to utilise their expertise.

Wake up Thailand, you live in the WORLD!

Posted by Punished Foreigner on August 14, 2009 08:03


As I witnessed in the days after the tsunami, the foreign community did a great job in helping all they could.Also, they have a great sense of responsibility whenever something happens in their respected countries .

Posted by elizabeth on August 14, 2009 23:08

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