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Phuket “disaster academy’ opens



THALANG: The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Academy, Phuket Campus, opened on Monday at the old Phuket Provincial Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (ODPM) in Tambon Sri Soonthorn. It is one of six schools nationwide set up to help prevent disasters and minimize their effects.

The plan for this scheme was approved by Cabinet in July last year and by the Ministry of the Interior on November 12, 2004.

The Phuket Campus opening was chaired by Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Director-General Sunthorn Liulueang, who explained that the curriculum for the first course was developed by the DDPM working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center.

Each academy will train local leaders in general disaster prevention and emergency response procedures, and offer specialized courses for the types of disasters thought most likely to occur in the area where the academy is located, such as, in the case of Phuket, tsunamis.

The first 150 students to undergo the five-day program will be groups from Phuket (Kamala, Patong and Kata-Karon), Phang Nga (Baan Nam Khem, Baan Bang Niang and Tab Lamu) and Krabi (Koh Phi Phi and Ao Nang).

They will receive in-depth training in community-based disaster risk management, which aims to reduce the risk of disasters by increasing public awareness.

The Phuket Campus training will also offer a five-day program in tsunami early-warning systems and public evacuation techniques; a five-day program in search-and-rescue procedures; and a six-day firefighting and fire-safety training course.

“Apart from knowledge of the correct procedures, we must also have the necessary equipment available to carry them out. We must train frequently so that it becomes a part of our daily lives. That way, we need not live in fear of disasters because we will be prepared for them.

“It is important for the economy that people will feel safe traveling and investing here,” K. Sunthorn said.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Thailand Hakan Bjorkman said, “Thailand is in a long-term recovery phase, trying to make sure that people that were badly affected still have jobs and a place to live. It’s a difficult challenge, and we are worried about some communities that are still not back on their feet.”

He said the key to a successful recovery was community support, which can be achieved by such means as vocational training, revolving loan funds and investment in small businesses.

As for the tsunami early-warning system, he said, “Everyone is talking about the technology. Actually, the most important thing is community preparedness, so that people know what to do when the warning comes and are prepared to help each other.

“At the same time, we really must make sure that the local government, the provincial government and the Tambon Administration Organizations have the capacity to carry out rescue and evacuation operations,” Mr Bjorkman said.

For more information, visit the website or contact the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Academy/Phuket Campus at 129/1 Moo 9, Tambon Sri Soonthorn, Thalang, Phuket 83110, or call Tel: 076-273023.


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