PHUKET TOWN: The floating medics of the south are back at work again after a two-month break for their vessel, the Andaman, to undergo a thorough overhaul following nearly five years at sea. Their first job on the refurbished vessel was to help tourists and athletes involved in the 3rd Thailand International Canoe Races at Krabi earlier this month. Dr Boonriang Chuchaisangrat, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Health Office, told the Gazette that this is the third time the Andaman has helped out with the races, attending to canoeists suffering from heat stroke, exhaustion or injuries sustained in collisions. When they are not looking after canoe racers, the medics and crew of the Andaman have two main jobs. The first is to treat patients on outlying islands in the Andaman Sea, ranging between Ranong and Phattalung and including such places as Koh Lone, Koh Nakha, Koh Maphrao, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Raya. The 20-metre, 60-ton vessel is based at Chokpanuchit Port on Koh Siray. Each morning it heads out on its rounds, calling at each island twice a month. The doctors visit people’s homes mainly to give them medical examinations and advice about health. But should the need arise, the Andaman is also equipped for surgery, with two operating tables and two post-op beds. In addition, it has a child delivery table, dentistry equipment, an X-ray camera and an oxygen generator. The vessel’s second function is to be on call 24 hours a day for sea rescues, working in conjunction with the Marine Police and the Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet.
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