Additional Lifeguards Hired In Sihanoukville After Drownings

In their latest effort to respond to a spate of drownings in Preah Sihanouk province, local tourism officials have hired 23 new lifeguards to patrol beaches in Sihanoukville after the successful candidates completed a three-day lifeguarding workshop last week.

According to provincial tourism department director Tang Sochetkresna, a group of Thai experts from Bangkok Hospital vetted 37 applicants on the first day in a primary test, which included assessments of physical ability. Twenty-one men and two women, mostly drawn from jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector, passed the test.

At least three lifeguards will be deployed to each beach in the city, with as many as five posted to “bigger and busier beaches,” such as Ochheuteal, O’Tres and Independence, he said.

Only the top 10 of the 23 new lifeguards would be permanent employees, he added, while the rest would be hired as needed on $100-per-month contracts.

Provincial governor Yun Min said the training and recruitment of new lifeguards was meant to improve safety along Sihanoukville’s almost 180 km of beaches.

The recent drownings “pushed us to pay more attention,” Mr. Min said.

Last month, a 9-year-old girl drowned after being pulled out to sea by strong waves near Sokha Beach. And in August, at least six people drowned, including five foreigners, prompting authorities to deploy police as stand-in lifeguards along the coast. Local vendors and tuk-tuk drivers were also asked to help patrol the beaches.

Christopher Haman, manager of local Scuba Nation Dive Cambodia, said he welcomed the initiative.

“I think the problem is about the information,” Mr. Haman said. “If the weather is bad and you don’t know how to swim, you should not go into the water.”

Mr. Sochetkresna said the new hires would join five previously trained lifeguards, adding that new lookout towers would be built on the beaches where they are deployed. The department will also provide rescue equipment kits, including life jackets, binoculars, whistles, ring buoys and megaphones, he added.

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