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A team of Australian Surf Life Saving trainers recently travelled to Phuket in Thailand to run lifeguard, junior lifesaver and water safety training programs for local lifeguards.

The week-long training program was run by Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) through the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) and was supported by the Australian Consulate-General in Phuket, the Phuket Lifeguard Service and the Phuket Hotels Association. It was hosted by the Phuket Lifeguard Service and its founder Khun Vitanya Chuayuan.

Forty-two Thai lifeguards received training in pool and ocean rescue skills and 54 high school students received training in personal water safety and rescue.

Australian Consul-General Matthew Barclay and Deputy Governor of Phuket and Mayor of Patong said the bond between Australian and Thai lifeguards was very strong.

“I am looking forward to more skills exchanges between lifeguards from Phuket and Australia in the future,” said Consul-General Matthew Barclay.

Australian Lifeguard Service’s international training program coordinator, Steve Allan, from the NSW South Coast, said that the week provided the opportunity for Australian trainers to work with local Thai trainers to facilitate ongoing, localised training.

“Through the ALS’s ‘train the trainer’ approach, local Thai trainers delivered high-quality instruction to eager trainees, strengthening the ongoing working relationships with surf lifesavers in Phuket,” said Steve Allen.

A closing ceremony, hosted by the Australian Consulate-General in Phuket and the Phuket Lifeguard Service, was held to celebrate the end of a very successful training program and to promote the ongoing future collaboration of Thai organisations and agencies towards a common goal of coastal risk management, water safety and drowning prevention. It also recognised the efforts of Australian Lifeguard Service trainers from SLSNSW who spent the week in Phuket training their local counterparts.

The closing ceremony was attended by the Deputy Governor of Phuket, Mayor of Patong, Commissioner of the Dept of Education, Consular representatives from Australia, France, Chile and Brazil, Patong Police Department Disaster Management team, Patong Municipal Council members, Phuket Hotels Association and the Phuket Chamber of Commerce.

Training program coordinator David Field said the event was an opportunity to present the second edition of the Thai Lifesaving Manual. The manual was adapted and translated from Surf Life Saving Australia’s Public Safety Training Manual.

A Thai-language version of a children’s book which promotes water safety was also launched at the event. The book, Pirate Kim: Let’s Go Swim by Thu-Trang Tran, was published with support from the Australian Government’s Direct Aid Program.

Two highlights of the ceremony were Australian trainer, Lachlan Field’s demonstration of the capabilities of SLSNSW’s UAV (drone) technology and a demonstration by Thai trainees of a fast-paced rescue scenario to showcase their new skills and knowledge.