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Phuket

Aussie lifeguards help bring man back to life

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Aussie lifeguards help bring man back to life | The Thaiger

PHUKET: After 30 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and six injections of adrenaline, Mike Reynolds’ heart started to beat again. His 18-year-old daughter, Kristi, rushed into the emergency room as the two holidaying Australian lifeguards that had saved him from a drowning-induced heart attack while on a trip to Phi Phi Island waited outside.

Also standing outside the room was his other daughter, Katie Severn, her husband Stephen and her two young children.

“They had his heart [beating again], and I expected he would be fine. But when I went in, his eyes were open, but dead, not moving – just nothing. That was really hard to see, I had figured that with his heart beating he would be fine,” Katie explained two weeks after the event, as she rocked her 4-month-old Zachery to keep him happy in the lobby of Bangkok Hospital Phuket.

Mr Reynolds, 73, was in a coma undergoing a full seizure when he arrived at the hospital – a sign that at least some brain damage had occurred. How much is still unknown.

He had left Salt Spring Island, Canada, with Kristi for his first holiday in over 25 years, joining Katie and her family, who had been in the Kingdom for the past nine months. Mr Reynolds and Kristi were to return on April 25. On April 22, he suffered the heart attack while snorkelling at Maya Bay.

The Reynolds had booked the day-trip, like thousands of tourists to Phuket, with a travel agent in Karon Beach. They were taken to Rassada Pier from which their VIP speedboat, owned and operated by Phuket Absolute Marine, departed.

There were about 50 people who boarded the boat with the Severns and Reynolds, said Katie.

The next portion of the trip went exactly as expected. Everyone was unloaded at the renowned Maya Bay and allowed to wander around the beach before heading up to the lookout. Then, guests were brought back to the boat and taken around the point to another bay to go snorkelling.

“They gave us the spiel. If you need a life jacket, please wear one. This is your snorkel, goggles, put them on. They didn’t give instructions on how to breathe through it.”

It was a sunny day with blue skies, but the water was a little choppy, Katie recalled.

SNORKELLING

“He’s a strong swimmer,” said Mr Reynolds’ wife of 33 years, Dora. Mrs Reynolds landed in Phuket two days after the incident and is now waiting for the green light for an air ambulance to take her husband back to Canada. “We never went on vacation, hence why I was at home working. I don’t know if he’s ever been snorkelling before, he’s been to Mexico and stuff a long time ago. But in the past 25 years or so, no he’s not been snorkelling.”

Mr Reynolds jumped into the water without his life jacket to join his son-in-law and other tourists.

“The water was wavy, people were coming back on the boat… saying they were totally wiped after swimming out there for 10-15 minutes. I was on the boat with my son and daughter,” Katie said.

“I saw one of the guides throwing bread out to the fish, so my daughter was entertained. I saw my dad beside my husband, and they were fine. My sister was taking pictures.

“All of a sudden my sister came rushing onto the boat saying, ‘Dad needs his inhaler’. I was like, ‘What? What?’ I saw him on the rocks, there was another man with him. I could see him heaving. So Kristi got his inhaler and went running off the front of the boat and jumped in.”

At that point, Katie didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. Mr Reynolds has asthma attacks. She thought it was fine.

AUSSIE LIFEGUARDS – SAVING GRACE

“From that point on, it’s kind of a blur,” Katie said. “All I remember is seeing my husband behind him holding his back up saying, ‘Come on Mike, it’s okay.'”

Even from the boat, 60 to 100 feet away, Katie could see that her father’s whole body had turned blue.

“That’s when I panicked. The driver was in his seat. I was like, ‘Do you have oxygen?’ Cause I heard people saying, ‘We need oxygen, we need oxygen.'”

There was no oxygen on the boat, which is standard for tour speedboats, the owner of Phuket Absolute Marine, Sathanan Chaipradit, told the Gazette on Tuesday.

“I was like, ‘What! How do you not have this stuff?'”

Two Australian lifeguards, a father and his daughter, leaped from the boat.

“There were a couple of Thai guides on the rocks with him, but they weren’t doing anything, they were just looking at him.”

“I ducked down, if I was going to be of any help to the situation, I couldn’t look. I would just panic.”

Due to the water conditions, it took several minutes for the captain to edge the boat close enough to the rocks to have Mr Reynolds taken aboard.

“I think that’s where the guides were helpful,” said Katie.

“I just saw him [the lifeguard] doing CPR. I nearly buckled to my knees seeing it.”

“My husband was with the lifeguard. I could hear him yelling from the back, ‘Come on Mike! Come on!'”

The boat sped away, taking them not to Phuket, but to Phi Phi Hospital, only about five minutes away.

“The lifeguard was doing CPR as we got him into the hospital, until the nurses took over. They were in there for like 20 minutes doing CPR and they said they put six shots of adrenaline to get his heart beating again.”

INSURANCE

Then Katie was handed a phone from a stranger.

“They just put a phone in my face and said, ‘insurance company’.”

“The lady started talking. She said they needed a speedboat transfer. It’s not covered on insurance. It costs 25,000 baht. You need to pay. You need to pay.”

Katie immediately agreed.

“But she kept pausing and saying, ‘Hold on one moment, let me check the price.’ I was like, just get the boat here!”

At some point, the tour boat departed leaving behind Mr Reynolds’ family, the Australian lifeguards and another couple that had been on the boat with them.

Tour company owner Mr Sathanan explained the decision. “We believed that the man was now in the care of the doctors, and we had done our part by taking him to Phi Phi Hospital – we did not abandon them.”

As her father’s heart had re-started, Katie remained fixed on trying to sort out the insurance.

“They were trying to get us to get our insurance together. I was like, we don’t have our passports; we don’t have our credit cards; we don’t have our insurance cards, ’cause we are on a swimming boat trip, so we left them at the hotel.

Eventually, a nurse was able to help Katie make an international call from Kristi’s phone.

“My mom luckily had the insurance claim numbers, she started the process from Canada.”

Mrs Reynolds confesses, “I don’t know what people would do who come over here with no insurance. I wasn’t sure ours was going to cover it. I was glad it did, it’s going to cost an awful lot of money.”

Phuket Absolute Marine owner Mr Sathanan has denied any accountability for the incident, citing a Phi Phi Hospital report that established that Mr Reynolds had asthma.

“Before we let guests go into the water, we make it clear that anyone who has an underlying disease [sic] cannot enter the water, this of course includes asthma,” Mr Sathanan said.

However, Mrs Reynolds told the Gazette that doctors at Bangkok Hospital Phuket had ruled out any connection between the incident and Mr Reynold’s asthma.

Phuket Absolute Marine does have insurance for its customers, Mr Sathanan said.

“It covers 500,000 baht for an accident and 1 million baht if a customer dies. However, this was not an accident, so the insurance didn’t cover it. The insurance company said that, according to doctors, it was due to asthma,” he said.

“However, his relatives did confirm that he has his own insurance – I hope it covers all their medical expenses.”— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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Phuket

Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works

The Thaiger

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Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works | The Thaiger

The Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority says Rawai’s mains water supply will be shut off tomorrow (Tuesday, October 15) as new water pipes are fitted in front of The Title Beach Front condo resort complex on the town’s beachfront.

The mains water supply will be shut off from 9am until 4:30pm along the beachfront strip.

The PWA says the areas affected will be along Wiset Road along the Rawai beachfront road, as well as Soi Yanui and Soi Ruafaed.

Residents and businesses are being urged to collect water for use during the day today, before tomorrow morning’s shut-off.

As usual, the PWA say…“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Contact the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority on 076 319173 or 082 7901634 for more details.

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