Juan Burana, 37, came from Surin to work in Phuket in 1995. He has been a Kusoldharm Foundation volunteer since 2003 and has worked as a rescue worker in Patong for the past four years.
Here, he talks about what tourists can do to stay safe and what Kusoldharm can do to improve the skills of their staff and help save lives.
PHUKET: In Patong, most of our calls are traffic accidents and most of the time the victims are tourists.
I think one reason tourists have accidents is because they are not familiar with driving in Thailand. Even simple factors, such as driving on the left side of the road, causes problems. Many tourists drive on the right side in their home country. For this reason I strongly suggest that before visitors rent a vehicle they learn traffic laws and become familiar with how locals drive.
A lot of the accident victims I’ve treated weren’t wearing helmets. Everyone should wear a helmet every time they ride a motorbike, and use a seat belt when they are in a car.
Another way to stay safe is to not drink and drive. If visitors want to party and drink, I recommend they choose a place near their hotel so that they can walk home afterward.
In my experience, many foreigners with minor injuries don’t want to be treated at the hospital. They think they can take care of themselves. However, they really should get checked by a doctor because sometimes there is more to an injury than the eyes can see.
At Kusoldharm, we have two kinds of staff. The “white shirt” staff are those with first-aid training. The “blue shirt” staff are volunteers without complete first-aid training who help us by doing things such as driving and carrying stretchers. The white shirt staff are the only ones allowed to administer first aid, so one of them must always be on standby.
The government provides first-aid training, but we need more. Right now, the course is offered only once a year, and not always in Phuket. Sometimes it’s in another province – in Trang or Haad Yai, for example.
I’d like to see the course offered in Phuket every year. When it’s in another province, we sometimes can’t send anyone, because we don’t have enough trained personnel standing by here in Phuket.
Accidents happen every day.
And I’d like to see refresher courses offered, so we can continually improve our skills. Finally, I’d like to see courses for our volunteers so they can get primary first-aid skills. If we do these things, we will be better able to help people.
We also need more English language training – sometimes when I help a foreigner I can’t understand what they want, or can’t understand when they describe their pain.
It would be great if we got support from the government with English classes especially for those of us in Patong who have to communicate regularly with foreigners.
We also need to keep in mind that with the Asean Economic Community (AEC) trade regulations coming into effect in 2015, more foreigners will come to Phuket. This is another reason we need to upgrade our English language skills.
If we can communicate well, we can help foreigners more quickly and maybe even reduce the number of deaths.
— Saran Mitrarat
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