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

The Thaiger

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

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Phuket

Phuket health chief urges “red zone” travellers to abide by quarantine measures

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket health chief urges “red zone” travellers to abide by quarantine measures | The Thaiger
PHOTO: National News Bureau of Thailand

With Phuket’s new disease control measures requiring those travelling from high risk areas to quarantine, the province’s public health chief is now saying those at alternative state quarantine hotels won’t be locked up in their rooms throughout their 14 day stay in isolation. He says guests can wander through certain areas of the hotel to have meals and do other activities.

Those travelling from “red zone” provinces are required to self-quarantine at a hotel or at their home for 14 days. People from areas classified as the “highest risk,” including Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, must quarantine and undergo a Covid-19 swab test.

The public health chief Thanit Sermkaew says there will be harsh penalties for anyone who violates the new measures and urges travellers to stay at their quarantine location, home or hotel, for 14 days. People who violate the order can be punished under the Disease Control Act, either under Section 51, which carries a fine up to 20,000 baht, or under Section 52, which carries up to a year in jail and a fine up to 100,000 baht.

“It would be great if visitors from the ‘red zone’ areas stay in their hotels, so we are asking for their cooperation. They do not need to stay only in their room. They are able to do activities within the hotel, such as having meals, swimming, yoga and other activities… Please do not go outside the hotel. That would be a good preventative measure in Phuket province.”

Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panaphong says hotels should “request” that their guests stay inside the hotel.

“Phuket officials have asked for the cooperation from operators to record the travel moments of guests before they arrived at the hotel and to request that their guests stay within the hotel area only, not to go outside of the hotel area.”

People who completed quarantine in Bangkok and tested negative for Covid-19 do not need to quarantine in Phuket as long as they travel directly to the island immediately after being released.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Screening measures to enter Phuket, travellers from “red zone” provinces to self-quarantine

Caitlin Ashworth

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Screening measures to enter Phuket, travellers from “red zone” provinces to self-quarantine | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai

Phuket authorities have announced screening measures for those entering the island province, which includes requiring those travelling from 20 “red zone” provinces to self-quarantine for 14 days. Those travelling from “hotspot” and “high risk” areas are required to do a swab test. While measures were put into effect over the weekend, some people say nothing has changed.

The “required” self-quarantine, which is apparently monitored by the Mor Chana tracking app, might be more of a guideline than a requirement. Arrivees on flights from Bangkok to Phuket Sunday morning, just 24 hours after the new screening measures were imposed, were not required to self-quarantine.

The minimum required for all individuals travelling to Phuket is to 1) download the “Mor Chana” app on their smartphones and display them when the officer calls for inspection, and 2) register online through the website www.gophuget.com to inform officials of the travel details to Phuket.

Screening measures to enter Phuket, travellers from

Screening measures to enter Phuket, travellers fromScreening measures to enter Phuket, travellers from

Screening measures to enter Phuket, travellers from

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Late-night alcohol ban in Phuket, bars to close at midnight

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Late-night alcohol ban in Phuket, bars to close at midnight | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew

Bars and other entertainment venues in Phuket must close at midnight, according to an order imposed by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Restaurants can stay open late, but are ordered to stop selling alcohol at midnight. The order is effective today until January 20, but could be extended further if the Covid-19 situation does not improve.

Phuket also recently announced travel restrictions for arrivals on the island. Those travelling from the “highest-risk” areas within the “red zone” provinces “must now quarantine for 14 days” upon arriving to Phuket, according to the announcement released by the Phuket PR department over the weekend.

The ban on late-night alcohol sales was issued yesterday following the Communicable Disease Committee meeting. The committee, which is chaired by the governor, unanimously agreed to apply restrictions to pubs, bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues to prevent the virus spread in other parts of the country although there are no new infections in the province.

Restrictions in the order are as follows…

  • All entertainment venues, pubs, bars, karaoke venues and other places that open to provide similar services must close at midnight.
  • Restaurants and food courts are not allowed to sell alcohol beverages inside the venues after midnight.

People who fail to comply with the order restricting alcohol sales could be punished under the Disease Control Act, either under Section 51 which carries a fine of up to 20,000 baht, or under Section 52 which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine up to 100,000 baht. Those found violating the order can also be charged under Section 18 of the Emergency Decree which carries a penalty of up to 2 years in prison and a 40,000 baht fine.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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