Connect with us


9 years of providing Phuket’s lifeguards comes to an end

The Thaiger



9 years of providing Phuket’s lifeguards comes to an end | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Constant training and up-skilling was at the core of the Phuket Lifeguard Service

The nine year relationship between the Phuket Lifeguard Service and the Phuket provincial and Thesaban
administrators is over.

The contract for providing professional lifesavers at Patong beach, the final beach under their watchful eye,  finished yesterday.

9 years of providing Phuket's lifeguards comes to an end | News by The Thaiger

Speaking to the MD of the Phuket Lifeguard Service Company, Vitanya Chuayuan, today The Thaiger noted a tone of resignation in her voice after the long battle the company had to provide skilled and professional lifeguards along Phuket’s beaches.

Phuket’s outgoing governor, who finished his tenure on the island on September 30, Norraphat Plodthong passed the baton of issuing contracts to lifeguards services from the island’s central Provincial government down to the local Thesabans. Each local municipality would handle their own contracting for patrolling their local beaches.

The new tenders have resulted in two years of turmoil along the west coast beaches with a hotch-potch of volunteers, paid life-savers, trained, untrained and ‘locals’ putting on the traditional red and yellow outfits to patrol Phuket’s beaches.

The results, as logged in story after story about drownings on The Thaiger and other local news sites, are evidence of the failure of the new system to provide an adequate or professional level of international-standard lifeguarding in Phuket.

All this whilst the numbers of tourist arrivals, especially during the traditional wet-season, keeps increasing, year on year.

Vitanya says that it was a sad day indeed as the company, which had worked so hard to improve the standards of lifesaving on the island for so long, had to now watch from the sidelines as the quality of lifeguards, and the entire system of island-wide beach patrols, descends into bureaucratic turmoil.

“I have not spoken to Phuket’s new Governor at length about the matter, but the old governor believed that giving the money to the Thesabans, and letting them control the provision of services, would be a better solution.”

“The budgets just kept dropping each year and, although we tried to improve our efficiencies whilst improving the quality of our lifeguards, we just couldn’t match the lower tenders for the contracts anymore.”

“We also believe that a single company, providing lifeguarding across all beaches in Phuket, was a much better system amortising costs of equipment, training and sharing of local knowledge across the island.”

Phuket Lifeguard Service was instrumental in asking the provincial officials to assist with coming up with information pamphlets and signage to present to tourists, especially Chinese tourists, to alert them of the dangers of swimming along Phuket’s west coast beaches, particularly during the south-west monsoon season.

“There were many brochures printed. We handed many out to tourists on the beach (they were multi-lingual) but we really needed them to be distributed at the airport and hotels as a priority. We’re not sure if that happened or how many were distributed.”

After 9 years of years of reducing the number of drownings on Phuket’s beaches, despite the number of tourists rising every year, Vitanya says it has been sad to see the number of preventable drownings increase since the Provincial government started the new system.

“We believe it should all be controlled by the one professional company or organisation to provide lifeguard services. This way we could make savings across the board with training, equipment and co-ordination with all emergency services.

Daren Jenner, the Marine Safety Officer for the International Surf Lifesaving Association (ISLA), says that ISLA has been constantly monitoring the situation with the Patong lifeguard team.

“During ISLA’s beach audits earlier this year, the Patong team was the only one on the island to meet ISLA’s international standards. ISLA was urging the Thai government at all levels to support a unified, professional lifeguard force for all of Phuket and the surrounding islands.”

“Phuket is a world-famous beach and water-sport destination but surrounded by potentially dangerous waters, yet the lifeguard service has repeatedly failed to receive adequate support.”

Speaking specifically about the problem with the Chinese tourists and the many drownings in recent years Vitanya said, “We provided flags with warnings in Chinese, English, Russian and Thai. The Thesaban are still using our old flags which haven’t been updated for a few years – they are very tatty now and hard to read. The flags should be changed every six months.”

“Many Chinese people are not well educated in water safety. It’s not really their fault and more needed to be down to provide information before they arrived at the beach. Once on the beach it was just a huge communication problem that sometimes ended up in disaster.”

For now Vitanya says her company will keep providing professional lifeguards to the hotels and water parks.

“At our biggest we had around 100 active lifeguards, all men. Asian women don’t really like swimming and are not really interested in lifeguard work. Now we have only five instructors and a few freelance staff.

“We are sending two of our lifeguards to the Life Saving World Championships in Adelaide from November 19-26 at Glenelg Beach. Our team has developed such skills and talent here on the island. It’s sad to see it all go to waste.”

9 years of providing Phuket's lifeguards comes to an end | News by The Thaiger

Phuket Lifeguard Service were training the new generation of Phuket lifeguards

Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket.

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.


The Phoenix rises to the surface

The Thaiger



The Phoenix rises to the surface | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Facebook/สุรเชษฐ์ หักพาล

The yacht sank late afternoon on July 5 in a short, sudden storm. Most boats would have quite capable of withstanding the wind squal and waves on the day. But Phoenix capsized and sank, taking with her 47 Chinese tourists. The full reasons are stilll being investigated. Today, the actual yacht rose from the depths of the Andaman Sea, off Koh Hei, providing prosecutors with a key piece of evidence.

The yacht has been stuck at the bottom for three and a half months. One salvage team tried and gave up after two months of amateur operation, resulting in no boat but diver dying.

This week a crane and barge arrived from Singapore, organised by the Thailand police under the supervision of the acting chief of Immigration, Maj Gen Surachete Hakparn. And there he was today, with a collection of local and Bangkok media to capture the moment, happily speaking to the media about the success of the operation.

The boat eventually broke the surface just after 3pm this afternoon, the local sea-life starting to make their home on the Phoenix after its three and a half months submerged.

The Phoenix will be brought back to Phuket for a full examination of its design and safety equipment on the fateful day. Questions have already been raised about the sea-worthiness of the vessel’s design and how it might have been able to satisfy inspectors before its work as a local tour boat.

Continue Reading


New additions to the Thailand Michelin foodie guide

The Thaiger & The Nation



New additions to the Thailand Michelin foodie guide | The Thaiger

by Khetsirin Pholdhampalit

Thai street food eatery Jay Fai has retained its one Michelin star for the second consecutive year and the legendary Thai restaurant Methavalai Sorndaeng is among the new 10 additions to have been awarded one star, according to the announcement of eateries making it the second edition of Michelin Guide Bangkok.

No restaurant has achieved the coveted highest three-star rating.All three two-starred restaurants in the inaugural edition, namely Gaggan, Le Normandie and Mezzaluna have retained their stars, while Suhring has been upgraded from one to two stars.

The little red guide has been extended to cover the best dining venues in the Southern provinces of Phuket and Phang Nga for its 2019 edition.

However, Pru restaurant in Phuket is the only restaurant in the two Southern provinces to have been awarded one star.

The other 14 restaurants in both cities, such as the famous venues of Raya and Chomchan received Bib Gourmand awards for being ‘good value for money’.

In addition to Methavalai Sorndaeng and Pru, other new one-starred additions include Le Du, Gaa, Canvas, R.Haan, Saawan, Sorn, Ruen Panya, and Suan Thip.

Dining venues in Bangkok’s neighbouring provinces of Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan are also covered in this new edition.

New additions to the Thailand Michelin foodie guide | News by The Thaiger


Continue Reading


Korean man ran over by truck in Phuket accident

The Thaiger



Korean man ran over by truck in Phuket accident | The Thaiger

A Korean man has died after colliding with a six wheeler truck in Kathu yesterday

The Kathu Police were notified of the incident on Wichit Songkram Road, Kathu around 4.30pm.

The motorbike driver was identified by Kathu Police as 39 year old South Korean male Keewoong Lee. He was taken to Siriroj Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

A six wheeler truck, along with the driver identified as 43 year old Soonthee Hemthong, was found nearby.

Kathu Police report that the motorbike and the truck were heading to an intersection near the Prince of Songkhla University Phuket Campus. The motorbike fell onto the road when the truck was overtaking. The left rear wheel of the truck ran over Mr Lee’s body.

Investigations are continuing.

Korean man ran over by truck in Phuket accident | News by The Thaiger

Continue Reading
Phuket Weather
November 17, 2018, 10:44 pm
Wind from East-Northeast
Cloud Cover
Heat Index

The Thaiger Newsletter

Keep up with all the day’s news. Subscribe here.

The latest news and information from Thailand.

* indicates required