PHUKET: As regular as the return of the deadly rainy-season surf that will soon lurk off Phuket’s west coast, the island is again facing the reality of not having any lifeguards on the beaches to save and protect swimmers – tourists and residents alike – from drowning.
The lifeguards packed up their life-saving equipment and walked off Phuket’s beaches at 6:30pm on March 26, the president of the Phuket Lifeguard Club confirmed to the Phuket Gazette.
A Surin Beach lifeguard also told the Gazette that night that they had crossed the red-yellow flags for the last time, indicating the closure of the safe-swimming area.
“Lifeguards have managed to keep Surin Beach drowning free for more than five years. Neighboring beaches, such as Bang Tao and Laem Singh, have not been so lucky, with numerous drownings occurring there over that same time period,” he said.
“Surin Beach Lifeguards have closed the swimming area for the last time as money for lifesaving services has run out. The loss of ocean lifeguards across Phuket comes as the monsoon season and the dangerous rip currents that come with it are approaching.
“The crossed red and yellow flags indicate the closing of the safe swimming area – usually just for the day – but the lifeguards will not be returning. When the lifeguards will return is unknown at this time.”
This year, as with years past, no one even filed a bid for the government concession to provide lifeguards to patrol the beaches. Not even the Phuket Lifeguard Club, which has provided the essential life-saving service for years (story here).
Last year, the contract debacle saw Phuket beaches void of lifeguards for nearly a month (story here).
During that time, 26-year-old Supachet Ngamsong, a visitor from Northern Thailand, drowned (story here).
As recently as last Wednesday – one day before the lifeguards left the beaches – lifeguards were needed to safely recover a German tourist who was struck in the head by the propeller of a longtail boat off Karon Beach (story here).
In our latest poll, we ask Gazette readers how we should hire our lifeguards to ensure they can keep safeguarding swimmers at our beaches uninterrupted of bureaucratic hurdles.Should they be hired as full-time employees, instead of hired by an annual contract that expires each year?
In short, “What is the best way to hire Phuket’s lifeguards?”
Responses available in the poll are:
Make them full-time government employees
Make them full-time employees, but not necessarily government
Keep the annual contract, but deadlines for renewal must be brought forward
Keep the annual contract as used now, it is the best solution
To have your say in this poll, vote at right.
If your preferred option is not listed, feel free to enter it in the comments section below, and we’ll make sure it’s counted.
If you have already voted and want to check the latest results, click here.
To view the results of our previous poll, asking “Do you trust the Thai Police?”, click here.
Have an idea for a poll? Contact us with your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org