Thailand now has a fully equipped medical boat plying the waters around the Similan and Surin islands – part of Phang Nga province – to handle traveller emergencies, according to a report by The Nation newspaper.
Currently, the medical boat has assisted 30 injured tourists this season, seven of whom were in critical condition. The current tourist season runs from October through May, with the peak being from December to April.
There are three levels to the emergency service. Level 1 is when the medical team stationed on-site is ready to provide initial aid and treatment, refer critical cases to appropriate facilities and train volunteers in first aid. Level 2 entails an effective system for reporting incidents, with a command base linked to the southern regional centre. Level 3 involves coordinating agencies in the provision of sea-based medical services, accident prevention and a warning system.
The vessel and service are maintained by the Phang Nga Public Health Office and the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Naval Base, assisted by other agencies.
According to The Nation, the vessel is part of a sea-based public-health action plan that addresses medical emergencies around islands and national marine parks. In addition, the boat carries supplies for health officials stationed on the islands.
Phang Nga province draws 4.7 million visitors a year, earning 51.9 million baht (US$1.6 million) in tourism receipts.