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Phuket Promise: The beach guards ‘will be back’



PHUKET: Lifeguards will soon be back on the beaches in greater numbers and with more new lifesaving equipment, Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) President Paiboon Upatising has confirmed to the Phuket Gazette.

The news follows the February 26 expiration of the contract for the Phuket Lifeguard Club (PLC) to guard the beaches, leaving no organization officially responsible for saving swimmers.

“According to government regulations, we had to give all other interested parties the opportunity to bid for the new contract, but PLC was the only tender. We will contact them to renew the contract with us soon,” Mr Paiboon said on Wednesday.

The contract will be for one year, starting mid-March, and with more lifeguards and more money for buying lifesaving equipment, he said.

Meanwhile, volunteer lifeguards are patrolling the beaches when they can, said PLC president Prathaiyuth Chuayuan.

“About 30 members and volunteers are helping to guard some beaches, such as Nai Yang, Nai Thon, Nai Harn and Surin, during the weekends when those beaches are busy with tourists.

“Some of our volunteers still stand guard on weekdays too, but that depends on their availability. If they have free time, they will go and help,” he said.

Although the surf at this time of year is usually calm enough to make it safe to swim, Mr Prathaiyuth urged beachgoers to be vigilant.

“The volunteers may not be on duty all day, so swimmers themselves should check whether it is safe to swim. They can also ask beach vendors and hotel operators for advice,” he said.

Last year, PLC’s 83 lifeguards patrolled 13 beaches, where they conducted or assisted in about 1,000 rescues, said Mr Paiboon.

Yet, Mr Prathaiyuth is looking to improve on that. He called for ropes and floating devices be deployed to identify safe swimming areas. “These can prevent swimmers and jet-skis from being in the same areas, making it easier for us to protect tourists,” he said.

He also called for more effort by the government and local hoteliers in warning Russian tourists of the surf, as they were the one segment that lifeguards were having particular trouble communicating with.

— Janpen Upatising


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